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Preparing to divorce a controlling spouse

Some Michigan couples enjoy the privilege of an easy, amicable and largely stress-free divorce that results in a minimal amount of fighting in and out the courtroom. However, many prospective divorcees have considerable challenges, particularly those who plan on ending a marriage to a controlling spouse. Pursuing divorce under such circumstances can be intimidating and highly stressful, but proper preparation and legal assistance from a qualified attorney can ease this process.

An individual planning on divorcing his or her controlling spouse, should obtain copies of any important financial or legal documents and place them in the care of an attorney. This provides proof of the status of any joint financial accounts and helps prevent a spouse from siphoning marital funds into a separate account in order to hide them from the court. It is important to note that even money in a spouse's retirement account is typically counted as marital property and thus subject to division upon divorce.

Similarly, it is generally advised to close any joint credit card accounts as a controlling or vindictive husband may see such an account as a way to wreak financial havoc and cause problems for their spouse after learning of a divorce filing.

A would-be divorcee should begin to start building his or her own stream of income and create a separate bank account in order to establish a degree of financial independence. This can be especially difficult for those whose spouses tightly control family finances, but having a stockpile of money during a bitter divorce can be extremely helpful.

While the circumstances of each divorce are unique, many divorcees with controlling spouses can benefit from getting their case in court as soon as possible. This effectively removes a spouse's control and transfers it to a judge. In some cases, a judge can even award legal fees and living expenses to a divorcee whose spouse has frozen his or her assets and emptied joint accounts. Divorcees whose controlling spouses are also abusive should not hesitate in calling the police, obtaining a protection order and immediately getting themselves and their children to safety upon filing for divorce.

Source: USA Today, "Protect your finances while divorcing a bully" Elizabeth MacBridge, Jun. 23, 2013

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