Financial advisors have seen their share of divorces gone wrong. What begins as an amicable breakup declines into conflict and dirty tactics when the couple has to deal with the finances. If you and your spouse expect to end your marriage soon, you may believe everything will go smoothly, but the process may not be that easy. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure you will not end up on the losing side of a settlement agreement.

It is easy to become emotional when your marriage ends, and some may allow those emotions to rule their decisions. Knowing the long-term impact of your divorce settlement may prompt you to be proactive about securing your fair share of marital assets and protecting yourself from property division that could leave you in the red.

Set yourself free

To begin this process, financial advisors recommend you obtain a copy of your credit report and study it carefully. Your credit report will show you accounts you didn’t know about, which accounts are in your name only and which you hold jointly with your spouse. If your spouse agrees, you may be able to close those joint accounts and pay them off, especially credit cards. Removing each other as authorized users may also prevent the temptation to charge up more debt as a means of retaliation.

Other matters to consider

If you have an emotional attachment to the home or simply want to keep it because it is familiar and feels safe, you may wish to consider the cost of maintaining it. After a divorce, it may not be practical for you to remain in the home, so you and your spouse may have to weigh your options, including:

  • Your spouse may pay you for his or her share of the house. Of course, this may mean you have to refinance the home to take your spouse off the loan.
  • You both decide to sell the house and divide the profit. This means you lose the house you love, but you may be able to have a fresh start.
  • Your spouse agrees to continue paying his or her share of taxes, insurance, mortgage and maintenance. Sounds good on paper, but you will want to be sure that your ex won’t leave you stuck with these obligations and no options.

The investments you and your spouse have made will need careful consideration as well since some may come with penalties and heavy tax implications for withdrawals. Since the division of investment assets may each come with complicated provisions, you may seek the advice of a professional before tackling them. Simply splitting investments at face value may leave you with a deficit you weren’t counting on.

If you and your spouse intend to resolve your divorce issues through a gentler form of divorce, such as mediation or collaboration, you may feel that your priority is keeping the peace and not rocking the boat. However, your future is on the line, and you have every right to expect a fair division of assets.