Try to settle your divorce amicably, if possible. The more acrimonious your divorce, the higher your legal fees will be. If you are able to negotiate and reach a fair and reasonable settlement without going to trial, you can save tens of thousands of dollars. Stay involved with the family finances. In many families, it is not uncommon for one spouse to be primarily responsible for the family*s finances, while the other spouse is largely hands- off. However, if you are not involved, you will not have an accurate understanding of your spouse*s (or your family*s) financial situation, and it will be much easier for you to be cheated. Have a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. The way that the law addresses the financial aspects of your marriage may be very different from what you believe to be fair. By entering into a prenuptial agreement before marriage, you and your partner can attempt to resolve how the assets will be divided if things do not work out. Evaluate joint bank accounts. If you simply ignore your joint bank accounts, you may find that your spouse has taken all the money. Consider removing some of the funds from these accounts while you still can in order to protect the marital estate. Freeze joint credit cards, lines of credit, and loans. This should be done as soon as possible, or you could be held responsible for large bills run up by your spouse. Remember that creditors can attempt to collect monies due from both parties listed on an account, even if only one party is ordered to pay it. Protect yourself from joint loans. As part of a marital settlement agreement, your former spouse may be required to pay a joint loan. You can try to protect yourself by notifying the lender and trying to obtain a release. If you are unable to obtain a release, ask the lender to notify you immediately if your spouse is late with a payment or defaults, so that you will have the opportunity to remedy the situation before it becomes worse. Inventory property. A complete and accurate inventory of your property and your spouse*s property will help ensure that the property gets divided fairly. In doing so, you should accurately identify each item, estimate its current value, and note when it was acquired, including whether it was a gift or inheritance. Use mediation. Mediation is a very cost-effective way of resolving the legal issues when you separate and divorce. Another benefit of media(on is that because both you and your spouse agreed to the settlement terms, you may be more likely to abide by the terms of a mediated settlement than a court order, which can save you from going back to court again and again over the coming years. Secure jewelry, artwork, and other valuable assets. Valuables have a way of disappearing when a relationship breaks down, and it can be hard to prove exactly what happened to them. If you believe this may happen, you should take steps to protect your valuables as soon as possible. Better to be safe than sorry. Ensure that separate property remains separate. Certain items, such as gifts, inheritances, and personal injury awards, may not be subject to being divided upon separation. To ensure that this is the case, it is always a good idea to keep those types of funds separate from other funds. While it may be tempting to use a large inheritance to pay down your mortgage, your doing so could inadvertently make those funds marital and thus subject to being divided in a divorce. We can help. The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for well over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as separation, divorce, and child custody, including complex cases. We are well-equipped to handle all family law matters, no matter your circumstances. About the Author: J. Benjamin Stevens Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Ben is a National Vice President and Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with all three of these distinctions.