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Thinking about divorce? Take these financial steps right away

If you're contemplating a divorce -- or suspect that your spouse may be contemplating one -- it's time to take the steps necessary to protect your financial future.

1. Find a safe space to store financial documents

You need to have a place you can store all your financial records. This should be somewhere outside of the marital home -- where you know they'll remain free from manipulation. Ask a relative to safeguard your documents or buy a safe deposit box.

2. Gather as many financial records as possible

Yes, your spouse can generally be compelled to turn over all the important financial documents in his or her profession -- but that process can be slow and expensive if your divorce is acrimonious and the division of property is complicated.

You'll make the divorce go along smoother and faster if you gather up all the important documents now. Nothing is too unimportant -- start collecting everything from bank statements and credit card receipts to copies of the latest financials from the family business and copies of property deeds.

3. Open your own financial accounts

If a divorce is looming, you need separate bank accounts from your spouse. If possible, you also need your own credit card. This will help you maintain your financial privacy once the divorce is in full swing and allow you to start building a credit history that's independent of your spouse's.

The more financial assets you and your spouse have, the harder it's going to be to get everything you need pulled together. So, start working on these items today. Delaying won't stop a divorce from happening -- but it could put your financial stability in danger.

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