Protecting your finances from a bullying ex-spouse

Going through a divorce is always hard. However, it can be even more difficult if your soon-to-be ex-spouse decides to act like a bully. In some cases, the divorce may have been spurred by the spouse's tendency to be mean or controlling. In others, the emotional stress of divorce might transform a once-reasonable spouse into a difficult or vindictive adversary.

When this happens, it is important to take steps to protect your financial future. Dividing a household's finances is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce, and any bad behavior by your ex-spouse can have long-lasting consequences.

Since every divorce is unique, it is important to discuss financial issues with your attorney early on in the process. Your attorney will be able to assess your individual circumstances and advise you on your best options for protecting yourself.

With that said, there are some steps that everyone should take, especially if they are divorcing a bully:

· Get your own money: This is particularly important if your ex was the primary income earner. It can take a while for spousal maintenance payments to kick in, and you will need something to live off of in the meantime. Do what you can to establish your own income stream and put money away.

· Gather your records: Even though it is illegal, it is surprisingly common for people to try and hide assets during a divorce. It will be easier for your ex-spouse to do this if you don't know what is going on with your shared accounts. Print copies of statements from your bank accounts, investment portfolios, retirement accounts and credit cards that show the balance on the date you separated.

· Get your own accounts: At a minimum, you should have your own credit card, checking account and savings account. You will also want to start saving for your own retirement if you haven't done so already.

· Close joint accounts: A common intimidation tactic that bullying spouses use is to drain joint bank accounts or charge up huge balances on shared credit cards. By closing these accounts, you can prevent your ex from misappropriating your money or damaging your credit rating.

· Get help: Even if you are embarrassed about what others might think, don't try to go through your divorce alone. Reach out to family and friends, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. In addition, be sure to choose an experienced divorce attorney who can do what it takes to safeguard you from your ex's bad behavior.

These are just a few of the tips you can use to protect your finances. The most important thing is to stand up for yourself and get the help you need. Your spouse may be trying to bully you, but you don't have to tolerate it.