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How to protect your finances from a divorcing bully

Divorce can be difficult for many New Mexico residents, but it can be even harder when one spouse is a bully. In cases of this nature, divorce mediation can be emotionally draining. However, individuals can take a few steps to protect themselves from a spouse who is a bully.

Before making any financial moves, a spouse should ensure that he or she can safely leave the home if the other spouse is physically abusive. Once the spouse is safe, he or she can make preparations to protect his or her finances. One of the first steps to take is to secure one's own money. However, this will not make everything easy, as a spouse may try to freeze out another's assets.

The next step is to document everything. Copy information about every account to ensure that the court knows how much money is in each account and which accounts exist. The balances should reflect how much was in the account at the time of the separation. A spouse who knows that he or she will soon be divorced should establish his or her own bank accounts, retirement accounts and credit cards in his or her name. At the same time, he or she should also close joint accounts.

New Mexico family law attorneys can help individuals with the final step -- going to court. Once the case is in front of the judge, the judge retains control of the case and can order the spouse to do certain things, such as leaving the balances in accounts intact. A controlling spouse may attempt to use the other spouse's financial challenges against him or her to try to control the situation or to hurt the other spouse. A family law attorney may be able to help the couple reach an amicable agreement regarding property division so that the spouse can move on with his or her life.

Source: USA Today, "Protect your finances while divorcing a bully", Elizabeth MacBride, June 23, 2013