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5 key financial tips for your divorce

Money and divorce are closely linked. You and your spouse are splitting up because you disagreed with how to spend money. You thought it wasn't a big deal when you were dating, but it just got worse after marriage. Eventually, it pushed the two of you apart, you gave up hope that things could change, and you just realized that it was in your best interests to move on.

As you do, keep these financial tips in mind:

1. Close those joint accounts.

Once you've decided to split up, you don't want your spouse to have access to your money. Shut down join accounts, like credit card accounts and bank accounts with both of your names on them. Start new ones up in your own name and reroute your paychecks. You're not trying to hide the money -- be sure to disclose it during the divorce -- but you must keep your spouse from wasting it.

2. Check your own credit report.

You want to know where you stand, especially if your spouse's financial issues may have impacted your own credit. This can give you a better idea of your financial position, help you see all of the accounts and lines of credit that need to be addressed, and give you a starting point for life after divorce.

3. Document everything.

Leave no stone unturned. Be sure you know exactly how much money you and your spouse have and where it is. Maybe it's in an investment portfolio. Maybe it's just in a bank account. Maybe you have assets in pension plans or retirement plans that don't represent cash on hand, but which are still very valuable.

You both have to report assets in court. The more you know, the easier it is to see if your spouse is attempting to lie and hide assets from you.

4. Change beneficiaries on insurance policies.

If you have a life insurance policy that is going to pay out to your spouse, change it immediately. Name someone else -- one of your kids, perhaps -- as the new beneficiary. If you don't, that money still goes to your ex, even after you legally split.

5. Write a new will.

Similarly, it's time to write up a new will. Take your ex out and move assets over to other family members. Age doesn't matter here. You can't predict accidents. Don't put the will off just because you don't think you'll need it soon. You always want to update your will after any major life event.

Divorce is complicated, but, when money starts the process, it's critical that you know how to protect yourself financially. Be sure you understand all of your rights and your legal options moving forward.

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