Everyone realizes that finances are integral to our lives today, and in a marriage, finances are often tightly intertwined with one’s spouse. Therefore, if you are considering divorce, what steps should you take regarding your finances? It should go without saying–but I’ll emphasize it anyway–you should discuss your financial situation in depth with your attorney. That said, let’s consider some of the basic steps you should consider taking.

First of all, it is paramount that you analyze both your current financial situation and how your financial situation will evolve in the future. What are your outstanding financial obligations and goals? How are they entangled with your spouse? How should you approach disentangling your finances?

Consider gathering liquid cash assets to help assist with your attorney fees, potential moving expenses, and starting your new, post-divorce life.

Does your situation fit one or more of these three conditions: 1) a long marriage, 2) your spouse earns the lion’s share of the family income (75% or more), and/or 3) you have a family-owned small business. Each of these will factor strongly in your options and considerations.

If you do not already have one (not to be sexist, but this is common for women especially), open new checking and savings accounts in your own name, and it’s also good to obtain your own credit card, issued in your name alone. It may indeed be a good idea to use a different bank than the one that your spouse and family have been using. While banking officials are not supposed to divulge any information about your banking activities, it’s better to avoid that risk by doing business with a different institution.

Consider closing all joint credit card accounts so as not to accrue any new balances on those accounts for which you may be responsible; obtaining your own credit card, as mentioned above, will help. While you should first discuss this with your divorce attorney, you may want to consider removing one-half of the money in any joint bank account and placing it in your new account or safe deposit box. Check your bank statements for any unexplained withdrawals or large purchases, and discuss these with your attorney, as they may be attempts by your spouse to hide assets.

If you own valuable jewelry or collectibles or similar items, consider placing them in a safe deposit box to prevent your spouse from accidentally “losing” or “loaning” them or even pawning them for cash. You may want to ask a trusted friend or relative to co-sign for the safe deposit box so that, if anything happens to you, they can access the contents of the box, but be sure that person can be trusted as they will have access to the safe deposit box at any time. You should document this so it is not viewed by your spouse or the court as an attempt to secret or hide marital assets.

There are many more considerations, far too many to go into here. In all cases, discuss these issues with your divorce attorney in detail.