- Get a post office box so you can receive mail privately.
- Establish a place outside your home where you can keep copies of all your important paperwork, including bank statements, social security numbers, birth and marriage certificates and documentation of jointly held assets.
- Set up a “secret” email account to communicate with divorce professionals. Use a public computer. A controlling or abusive husband might install spyware on home computers and even smart phones.
- Open a bank account in your own name and start squirreling money away. If you can, transfer all of your assets (paycheck, savings, etc.) into a separate bank account.
- Change all your PIN’s to ones that can’t easily be identified.
- If possible, remove your name from all joint debt so you will be protected from having to pay for anything incurred after you leave.
- Obtain a credit card (or preferably several). Contact credit card companies and explain your situation. Send them copies of any court orders, since such extenuating circumstances may help you qualify for a credit card.
- Acquire a prepaid debit card. These are available at many local retailers, and for a small fee, you can load it up with as much money as you want to have on it.
- If necessary, ask relatives for a loan to hire an attorney and other divorce professionals.
In addition, please be aware of this disturbing new trend: Some abusive husbands are cynically manipulating domestic violence laws to get an advantage over their wives in their divorce. Sometimes, the abusive husband actually claims that his wife is, in fact, the abuser. Alarmingly, this can result in the victim being arrested, prosecuted and even sentenced as an abuser herself. In short, when the perpetrator plays the victim, the results can be incredibly destructive. Nobody, male or female, should manipulate domestic violence laws to achieve an outcome based on lies.
Another significant problem women leaving abusive marriages may face is coerced debt. An abusive husband might secretly get credit cards in the wife’s name, trick her into relinquishing her rights to marital assets, or coerce her into signing financial documents. Any of these underhanded strategies can leave its victim with the devastating consequences of ruined credit.
While women in abusive marriages can face more and higher hurdles than others, there is hope, and a path to financial stability, for all divorcing women. In Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally, I help all women navigate the divorce process by offering practical, step-by-step advice on a wide range of topics, including how to:
- Build a top-notch divorce team
- Organize financial documents
- Protect businesses, intellectual property and personal assets
- Determine if your husband is hiding assets
- Manage pension plans, 401Ks and other retirement accounts
- Negotiate alimony
- Disinherit your husband