I’m thinking of a divorce. Should I open my own accounts?

Photo: pixabay.com

Q. My husband and I have always had joint accounts and joint credit cards. I’m thinking of getting a divorce. How can I decide if I should open separate accounts to make sure I’m all set if we separate? I don’t really want him to know until I decide for sure.
— Considering

A. We’re sorry to hear things aren’t going well, but we’re glad to see you want to make sure your credit is solid.

It should be pretty easy to do.

Start by opening up a bank account and credit card, and make sure you have online access so you can avoid having the statements mailed to your home, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

“Understand in a divorce, this money is not protected as it is still considered a marital asset and will have to be disclosed in a divorce,” Lynch said.

He said it’s not uncommon for a spouse to set up an account and move funds from a joint account to the individual one, locking the other spouse away from the money. If you or your ex does this, your attorneys would petition the court to give access, but that can take time and be very stressful, he said.

Lynch recommends you speak with a divorce attorney sooner rather than later so you can understand the rules and what you may need to do to prepare.

“You want to stay within the rules because if the judge finds out that you were doing things you were not supposed to do, things can work out rather badly for you,” he said. “The more information you have, the better you will be.”

Lynch said you should also assess your overall finances and make a list of where you can access money if needed in an emergency.

“A perfect example is a 401(k) that you can access with no reporting to credit agencies and you can access rather fast if needed,” he said.

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on May 20, 2022.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.