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Pulling money from accounts before a divorce could cost you

You can tell that a divorce is inevitable because of the way you and your spouse feel about one another. Maybe there's been infidelity. Perhaps you've grown apart over time. Whatever the reason, it's natural to want to start planning for your future without your spouse. Don't get ahead of yourself by making major financial mistakes as you head for divorce court.

It's common to feel like you shouldn't have to support your spouse when a divorce is imminent. After all, if you're the one making the most money, why should someone who wants to leave you continue to benefit from all your hard work?

You may feel tempted to close lines of credit, remove your spouse from banking accounts or even withdraw large sums of money from accounts to prevent their division in divorce. Doing any of this could end up costing you more in the long run.

Save the financial changeover for after filing

Until the day that you legally file for divorce, any assets you've acquired and income you've received are marital property. Excluding situations with carefully crafted prenuptial agreements, most income during a marriage is marital property. Regardless of who made more money or who contributed to your retirement account, the courts will probably divide those assets between you and your spouse.

Once you file for divorce, any income past that point is your separate property. At that point, so long as you comply with any court ordered spousal support or child support, your assets are yours to do what you want with them. Choosing to cut your spouse off before filing could result in a less favorable outcome to the asset division or even the custody decision process in family court.

Hiding or withdrawing assets could also cause issues

If you know divorce is inevitable for your marriage, you may feel tempted to start stashing some liquid capital for yourself. It's a reasonable impulse. Setting money aside now would mean that you have money to live on during the divorce.

It could also reduce the pot of marital assets when it comes time for the court to divide your assets. Unfortunately, if the courts find out about your withdrawals, it could have a negative impact on the asset division process.

Many divorce professionals, including attorneys and forensic accountants, know to review financial transactions in the months leading up to the divorce with great care. If the courts discover that you've hidden assets in an attempt to keep them from being divided, that could result in a less favorable asset division process. While it may feel frustrating, maintaining the status quo is typically your best option when it comes to finances immediately before filing divorce.

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