There are a lot of important actions that men can take to protect themselves in a divorce. Some things for you to consider regarding specific financial matters include the following.

1. Documents. Move your documents, records and other papers somewhere else, like a friend’s house or your attorney’s office. You can expect that your children’s mother will be going through your desk, briefcase, automobile, telephone records, bills, and computer, looking for financial information and other evidence to use against you.

2. Bank Accounts. Go to the bank and divide the joint bank accounts in half and deposit your half in your own name. You can also put them all in your name, but sometimes this will make the judge angry with you. However, it is often easier to give money back than to get it back. If you are the breadwinner do not put your children and their mother out in the cold without some money to get by on. This will aggravate the judge who will make you pay anyway. Make arrangements so that bills will be covered. Let your children’s mother know what you have done, but not before you have done it. You do not want her to clean out the account first.

3. Stock. Call your broker and divide any stock, bonds or mutual funds that are held jointly with your children’s mother. While this is not a taxable event, you will have to take future taxes into account if you want to be fair. Therefore, ask your broker to make sure the tax basis is equalized as well.

4. Credit Cards. You do not want to wake up one morning and discover that your children’s mother has charged $5,000 on your joint credit card on a spending spree. You may be responsible for paying part or all of that $5,000. Close all joint credit or loan accounts and notify the banks, charge cards, and others by a certified, return receipt letter that you are no longer responsible for the expenses of your children’s mother. You may ask the company to reopen an account in your own name. This is a good time to request it. Let your children’s mother know so she is not caught by surprise at the gas pump when the credit card no longer works. If your she has already started her spending spree, report the card as stolen. If she has charged her attorney fees on the card, you can dispute the charges with the company.

5. Insurance. If you cover your spouse or children on your insurance, do not drop them from the policy at least until the divorce is final. You are probably responsible for their medical bills until then anyway. Even after the divorce, the employed spouse may want to keep the spouse and children covered. If you are paying child support, a large unexpected medical expense for the child could be assessed against the noncustodial parent as additional child support. The same could happen with alimony and an ex-spouse. Federal law allows most employees to cover their spouses for up to thirty six months after a divorce for a small additional premium. However, the employer must be notified prior to the final divorce decree.

6. Expenses. Two cannot live as cheaply as one, especially if they are separated and trying to maintain two households. It is time to cut costs as much as possible. Cancel anything you do not need like extra telephone lines or cable television. If there is any personal property you do not want or need, sell it. However, do not cut off the utilities on your children and their mother without giving them plenty of notice. Make sure you can prove this notice to the court because leaving your children and their mother home without heat or light in December seldom sits well
with the judge.

7. Pensions. Retirement funds acquired during a marriage are marital assets that can be divided by the divorce court. So chances are good that your wife will share in anything you contribute now to your pension plan at work or your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Fill out the paperwork to have your employer stop your contributions to your 401(k) account or other pension plan. Do not make contributions this year to your IRA. This will keep your spouse from getting part of it and chances are you will be needing the money soon.

8. Inventory. Make a list of everything in the house. Take pictures or video tape everything if you wish. Be sure to date your inventory. Include furniture, furnishings, appliances, clothing and jewelry. Then you will know if something turns up missing, and you will have evidence of it.

9. Valuables. Move any valuables, like collections, jewelry, artwork, firearms, cash, and heirlooms out of the house to a safe place. Anything with significant or sentimental value to you ought to be secured from your children’s mother. You are not trying to hide things. But you do not want to come home from work and find that your valuables have been sold at a yard sale.

10. Safe Deposit Box. You can establish a safe deposit box to store your valuables away from the house. If you already have a safe deposit box, and your children’s mother has access to it, you will want to remove your items and store them somewhere else. Make a list or take a picture or video tape of whatever is left in the box for proof later. The same goes for any storage unit you may have.

11. Get a Lawyer. Find a good family lawyer and set up an appointment right away. Some lawyers charge for an initial consultation and some do not. In the initial meeting, you will be able to get some good advice and strategy for your particular facts and circumstances. You will also be able to assess the attorney to see if it’s a good fit for you. During this meeting, the attorney will discuss costs with you. But be aware that any estimate by an attorney is the roughest of all guesses and depends upon what your spouse and her attorney do. Your attorney will probably tell you not to sign anything before he or she reviews it. Your attorney will also advise you about other matters you will need to consider during this change in your life, for example executing a new will and changing any powers of attorney.

12 replies
  1. Avis Bailee
    Avis Bailee says:

    I think divorces are a product of many years of miss communication. I would like to thank you for your guide helped me a great deal.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I like to know how can Cecil County, MD judges award the wife in a divorce half of her husband’s disability veteran’s check when according the United States Code, Title 38, section 5301(a) says: shall not be liable to attachment, levy, seizure, by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.

  3. jonathan
    jonathan says:

    It is much easier for men than for women I guess. Many women get problem with financial after a divorce.

  4. James J. Gross
    James J. Gross says:

    Donna: Some wrote and said why aren’t they the same? The truth is that one is advice for the economically independent spouse and the other is advice for the economically dependent spouse. But that doesn’t make a good headline.

  5. James J. Gross
    James J. Gross says:

    Avis: Misscommunication is part of the human condition. It is something you have to work at every day, even in good relationships.

  6. M.Swinton
    M.Swinton says:

    This is good advice, but it assumes that the man does not have custody of the children. What about in cases of a wife deserting her family and commiting adultery. My expirience thus far has been that most people don’t know how to react to this and fall back to the default “How much is the husband giong to pay the wife” position. This is very frustrating because I can see some judge forcing me to support my wife’s boyfriend while my child and I starve.

  7. James J. Gross
    James J. Gross says:

    M. Swinton: Every case depends on its particular facts, but if the father has custody, then the mother will usually have to pay child support to the father.

  8. Grand Rapids Divorce Attorney, Daisy Benavidez
    Grand Rapids Divorce Attorney, Daisy Benavidez says:

    I’m a Grand Rapids divorce attorney and I believe that getting a divorce should be “a choice of very last resort”. I’m curious to why one of the “11 Things To Do Now” was not to get family and/or marital counseling? It looks as if the “11 Things To Do Now” are bias to protecting financial and material assets but lack in repairing or saving the marital relationship.

  9. James J. Gross
    James J. Gross says:


    I agree with you. That article was written for someone who has already made the decision to get divorced or has a spouse that has made that decision. There are other articles on the site encouraging marriage.

  10. Wade P. Luther, Esq.
    Wade P. Luther, Esq. says:

    Typically, legal issues and relationship issues are considered separately. I always encourage clients to reconcile if at all possible. However, when not possible men (and women) need to take steps to protect their interests.

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