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Building financial protection in divorce

Legal and financial issues can be entangled at the end of a marriage and imperil future finances. Measures can help minimize some of these financial ramifications during an Arizona divorce.

Couples can agree to file for a legal separation which allows them to file joint taxes and remain on their other spouse's health care plans. This is a temporary measure that allows the couple to make plans or to consider whether they should stay together.

Spouses contemplating divorce should compile and inventory their assets. They should photograph or record evidence, locate legal documents and review joint and individual financial investments or accounts. Spouses may take advantage of the time provided by a legal separation to obtain this information.

If the divorce may become contentious or if there is a suspicion that the other spouse may hide or destroy documents, a spouse may keep important information in a safety deposit box. Important mail can be sent to their own post office box.

Separation should also include dividing financial resources so that a spouse can protect their property and their credit score. This includes taking out an individual insurance policy to protect against higher rates from the other spouse's driving and buying an individual rental or homeowner's policy.

Joint bank accounts should be closed. It is important to update lenders and other creditors on proceedings and to provide status reports when payments may be late.

All loan, credit card, insurance and utility payments under one spouse's name should be paid even if the other spouse agreed to pay these bills. Credit card payments may be placed on hold until the divorce is completed.

Passwords should be changed on all accounts. A credit report will provide information on accounts that should be cancelled or updated or where the other spouse should be removed as an authorized user.

Assets may be sold, accounts closed, loans refinanced and credit card debt may be transferred to a new card once the property division is settled. The other spouse should also be removed from loans.

A spouse may also seek temporary alimony during divorce proceedings. Temporary support may also be provided for child support or household expenses.

An attorney can assist a spouse with addressing their legal and financial needs and seeking options under Arizona law. A lawyer can help ensure that a fair and reasonable divorce decree is sought.

Source: WiseBread, "How to protect yourself financially during divorce or separation," Samantha Stauf, July 10, 2017

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