The Wild Wild West: Preparing Yourself Financially for a Divorce
In a contested divorce there is a period of time we often refer to as the “wild wild west.” This time occurs after one party has filed the documents necessary to start the process of divorce and both parties’ “guns are drawn” as they prepare for a fight. During this period of time there are very few rules in place as to what the parties’ financial responsibilities are to one another. While there are rules in place in certain counties in Florida which prohibit parties from concealing or disposing of funds, often referred to as an “Administrative Order”, there are no concrete rules that require a party to continue to deposit his or her paycheck into the parties’ joint bank account, pay credit card bills, or provide any form of temporary support to the other party. Until either an agreement is made, or a motion is heard (both of which could take months) it is a very uncertain time.
This lack of any requirement to continue to provide financial support and the fact that in certain counties you cannot request temporary financial support from a judge until you have attended mediation – which often takes two months or more to accomplish – it can often leave one party in a very vulnerable and scary position.
It is important that a party arm himself or herself with the necessary financial weapons to survive in the wild wild west. While it is important to keep in mind that you will need to account for any marital funds you spend after the date of filing (and we do suggest keeping meticulous records), it is also a good idea to create a reserve of funds and to obtain a credit card in your individual name to get you through this time of uncertainty. Be sure to include the payment of your attorneys’ fees and costs when determining the amount of funds you will need. It is equally important to be knowledgeable about your finances including your assets, liabilities, and monthly expenses. All of this information will be crucial in your divorce and much harder to find after the first shot is fired.
In conclusion, be sure to a.) arm yourself with enough funds or credit to support yourself during the beginning of divorce proceedings; b.) collect as much information as you can about you and your spouse’s finances, assets and debts; and c) set up a separate bank account. These precautions will create less stress, empowerment, and a better negotiating position which, at the end of the your divorce, will hopefully find you riding high on your horse off into the sunset.