2019-07-02
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Most people do not believe their spouse is capable of hiding money. Yet, divorce makes it abundantly clear they are not only capable of it but of other unexpected behavior.

It’s not possible to control another person’s actions but it is possible to control your own.

When a marriage begins to deteriorate one tries to save it (as they should) but emotions take over and smarts take a back seat. The fighting or anguish over an affair or other stresses climb into the front seat. There’s no plan for the long-term future. The immediate future takes precedent. How can this relationship be saved?

One thing leads to another and an individual can become so removed from the practical side of life they are in danger of being taken advantage of.

It’s possible to work on a marriage and still be responsible for your own personal and financial future. Here are ten critical financial moves you need to take if your marriage is struggling.

1. Request all bank statements.

If you are experiencing marital problems it is time to request seven years of bank statements. Why? Banks only go back seven years. Therefore, assume your relationship limps along for five years. You then retain an attorney. At this point, you will no longer be able to see what transpired financially in the early years of your problems.

If you own a business together make sure the bank has not let your spouse open a business account without your knowledge.

A common divorce tactic is opening and closing accounts as an effort to hide money or taking out either large withdrawals or many successive small withdrawals. Thus, it is critical to keep abreast of any and all accounts both personal and/or business and what banks you both are using.

2. Request all retirement statements.

It is imperative to understand your full financial standing and assets from the time problems initiated. This is the time you should still be aware of any assets or accounts you may have. Why? As problems persist, it is common for spouses to drain retirement accounts and shift them to other accounts. This is often done without leaving a trail. Money is withdrawn rather than transferred. And money can be hidden in illegal trusts or other accounts which will prove difficult if not impossible to ever locate if you haven’t kept abreast of the situation.

3. Request your mortgage documentation.

Call your mortgage company and request the most recent documentation detailing your mortgage. It’s important to find out what your approximate equity and payoff amount is. And determine if there are any home equity loans or anything you are unaware of. It is also a good idea to get them to send you a record of your payments received the prior two years. This way if your spouse is financially abusive in divorce and goes behind in the mortgage there is evidence that there was no history of this before the divorce. Hence, a pattern of financial abuse exposed once the divorce was initiated.

4. Investigate your insurance policies.

Insurance policies depending on the type can sometimes be borrowed against. It’s important to find out what policies exist and that no changes have been made. This doesn’t have to be a "Dateline" or "20/20" sinister scenario it could simply mean a spouse has stopped paying a policy without the other spouse’s knowledge. Critical information if the other spouse is a stay at home parent and could become homeless. Regardless, this is personal and financial information every person should remain educated and in the loop about.

5. Don’t just sign your taxes.

Do not just sign your taxes. Look at them. Assess every single detail. Is the income still approximately the same, deductions, business still structured the same? Are taxes still being paid? This way you will see over the years of marital problems if any changes have been made. If income suddenly seems to be dropping, etc. However, spouses who want to hide money are willing to do illegal things. Therefore, they could file another tax return and forge your signature or they could file personal taxes and not business taxes if you own a business together. That way they can make their income appear lower.

If you are having marital problems every couple of years you should request a copy of your tax return directly from the IRS.

6. Run your credit history.

Run your credit history as soon as your marital struggles begin. Know your credit score you will need it to move. You need to continue to run your credit report at least once a year to make sure no credit cards or loans have been taken out in your name. This is a common and financially abusive tactic used in divorce. Know your own credit.

7. Assess your transportation.

If you have a car which is old or which has a high car payment it is time to assess your situation. An older car could need repairs and you may not have the money to maintain it in divorce. Likewise, a high payment may be unrealistic. A new car with a lower payment or a car which is paid off is a good goal to strive for the minute problems begin. However, problems may persist over a long period of time and a car is critical for maintaining a job so keep assessing it.