Many clients contemplating divorce have questions about what they should do even prior to filing for divorce to protect themselves. Below is a list of some proposed actions from personal finance company, Kiplinger's.
Obtain a credit card in your own name if you don't already have one.
Obtain a checking and savings account in your own name.
Withdraw half the money in joint accounts or change the signature authority so that both parties must sign to complete any transaction. (Beware that if you withdraw all the money in a joint account you may be ordered to give back a portion by the court down the road and accordingly, it is not wise to spend it.)
Collect all information accessible to you regarding your spouse's bank accounts, retirement/pension plans, insurance policies, real estate interests, and any other financial assets.
Get copies of state and federal income tax returns for the past few years.
The purpose of these actions is to preserve your financial stability going forward by putting things into your own name. You are also ensuring that joint accounts will not be used or closed out by the other party without receiving your fair share. Ultimately, the court will determine what that fair share is at the time the divorce is finalized and that is why the money should not be spent pending the finalization of the divorce. Another tip for parties who are selling a marital home either prior to filing divorce or while the divorce is pending, is to hold the proceeds of the sale of the home in escrow. The share of the proceeds payable to each party would then be determined at the time of equitable distribution.