Don’t wait to come to a final decision with your partner if you think you are headed toward divorce. Bailing out of an unhappy marriage can start you on the road to tomorrow, but it can also cost financial security if you don’t know your rights and act to safeguard them. Take steps to protect yourself before you file and make a heartbreaking situation less stressful. It comes as no surprise to hear that some people go after money and assets as a way to seek revenge. Be prepared in case the worst happens.

  1. Consider mediating your divorce.

With the average cost of legal fees in a divorce topping out at an astounding $15,000, divorce can be expensive! One way to cut down on these expenses is to use a mediator to facilitate agreements. A mediator who doesn’t work on behalf of either party might be the best bet for both you and your bank account.

  1. Don’t let emotions make your financial decisions.

Divorcing people often want to take out their hurt feelings on exes, however it’s important not to let emotions interfere with the business at hand. Divorce can be costly, so pick your battles. Asking your lawyer to write your ex over who gets the $50 coffee table book is a short letter that could cost you $500 in attorney fees.

Think before you text. Any text messages, emails, or even social media posts can be used against you in court, so avoid communicating when you are angry. Go ahead and vent and write it down, but don’t hit send.  You want to make a good impression on a judge who does not know you.

  1. Protect yourself by gathering evidence.

Take time to gather key evidence before filing for a divorce. Take pictures of assets, make copies of account statements, record any important numbers. Preparation is key before the split. Seek professional help to guide you in making more informed decisions about finances being filing for divorce.

Make sure that your laptop/smartphone/anything with financial information has a password, and keeping all printed documents secure.

Start tracking your partner’s new credit card and loan applications. Loan applications can be a crucial part of a divorce discovery.

  1. Open your own accounts in your name. 

Go to a different bank and open a new checking and savings account in your name. According to state law that will dictate what you can and cannot do, your divorce attorney may advise that you withdraw up to half of your joint funds. You’ll need new accounts to deposit those funds. A new credit card account in your name will help establish good credit and solid financial footing.

  1. Get property appraised before you file.

Practically everything is divisible down to frequent flyer air miles. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can’t claim assets that aren’t in your name. Get property appraised and valued before you part ways.

  1. Get off the hook for debts that aren’t yours.

Too many women make the mistake of assuming partners’ debts are joint when they’re not. Some states do not divide marital debt if it’s just in one person’s name. You may prefer to pay down joint debts before the split if possible. That way you won’t be on the hook for debts you didn’t accumulate.

  1. Don’t cut back on spending.

If you reduce customary spending before the divorce, you are essentially helping the other party say you ‘need’ less money coming in each month. Don’t downsize too much if you leave the family home. Don’t move to a substandard area, especially if children are involved.

  1. Buy the big item before you file for divorce.

Most states issue automatic financial restraining orders prohibiting people from making big purchases or liquidating assets once the divorce is filed if there’s no court order or agreement in place. If you’re thinking about buy a big-ticket item such as a new car, go ahead and do it before you file.