The three most important steps to take when considering divorce

This article looks at three practical steps people should take after deciding to go through a divorce.

The period between January and March is often described as 'Divorce Season.' That's because, as MarketWatch reports, divorce filings in January tend to jump by 25 to 30 percent and continue to rise over the next two months. While there's plenty of debate about why the beginning of the year is so popular for divorce (holiday stress is probably a big factor), what is certain is that many people are currently giving serious thought to getting out of an unhappy marriage. For those who are ready to take the first move towards divorce, the following three steps can provide greater security and peace of mind going forward.

Open up new accounts

Divorce means not just emotional independence but financial independence as well. That's why one of the first steps somebody who is getting a divorce should take is opening up their own bank and credit accounts. When those accounts are opened, it's important to ensure that any pre-authorized debits from an old, joint account are transferred to the new account. With new accounts set up, one can feel more secure knowing that one's soon-to-be ex-spouse will not have access to one's finances.

Close any joint accounts

As CNBC notes, when one has opened up new bank and credit accounts then it is time to close any joint accounts held with the other spouse. It's important when closing such accounts that the bank be made aware of the situation. When the account is closed, withdrawing money from it should require the signatures of both spouses. Furthermore, ensure that before closing the account that any cheques that may be outstanding have cleared and that, as discussed above, all pre-authorized debits have been transferred to a new account.

Powers of attorney and beneficiaries

Finally, it is important to remove the ex-spouse's name from powers of attorney, health directives, and insurance policies as soon as possible. It is simply not appropriate for anybody to be able to make financial and medical decisions about their ex-spouse, which is why a soon-to-be ex-spouse should never be granted a power of attorney. Likewise, the ex-spouse may be named as the beneficiary on one's insurance (and other) policies. For obvious reasons, the designated beneficiary on those policies should be changed as soon as possible.

Family law help

Divorce is challenging for both emotional and financial reasons. While an attorney cannot eliminate the pain of a divorce altogether, she or he can provide advice to clients who are going through a divorce about how to protect their best interests in both the months and years ahead.