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Protecting Yourself Financially as the BS

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hathnofury posted 10/11/2013 09:14 AM

Ok, so you have already been devastated by finding out about your WSís infidelity, and are probably in no shape to make any major decisions. But I am telling you, as soon as you are humanly able, it is in your best interests to take charge of protecting yourself financially NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INDIVIDUAL SITUATION AND CIRCUMSTANCES are.


1) If there has been lies and deceit about infidelity, the chances are very high there have been lies and deceit about other things in your M. Even if you think there have been no spending of funds on the AP(s), there may be other transactions you are unaware of. The possibility of financial infidelity, even if it is not related to sexual/emotional infidelity, is much higher.

2) Since you are at higher risk for financial infidelity, you owe it to yourself to find out what you may be liable for that you are unaware of so you may try to rectify it as soon as possible.

3) Almost all infidelity has a money trail. As you are exploring your finances, you will likely find evidence of other infidelity matters. Also, if your WS is aware you are investigating the finances and has something to hide, they will quickly go to cover their tracks on all things suspect. THIS is the time you may score evidence with your VAR, keylogger, etc that may have otherwise not been detected.

4) In the event of D or drawing a post-nup, you will need to collect financial documentation anyway. It is ideal to collect these documents while WS is either appearing guilty and fully compliant, or is blissfully unaware you are investigating them. It is a great deal more difficult and expensive to collect this evidence after you are well on the path to D.

So what do you need to do?

First, you need to decide if you are going stealth or being open about your search with WS. Some records and funds may require the WS permission to obtain. This will help you determine the best approach on how to obtain them. I suggest suddenly developing an interest in being frugal or in one of the financial gurus like Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman, and that your new pet project is cleaning up your budget and finances so you can get out of debt/retire/go on vacay/whatever. Or feign possible identity theft. Or that you want to draw up your wills and do an estate plan. Even if you are being open about your investigating, it is nice to make the WS feel like they are not the primary reason for doing so - they will be much more cooperative if they feel they are not under attack.

Second, you need credit reports from all three agencies in both your names (in the US, agencies will be different elsewhere). It is possible to get them free under certain circumstances, but they are a little tedious and time-consuming. If time is a factor, I would pay the fee for them to get them instantly. This will give you an idea if WS has opened any accounts you are not aware of, or has been late on payments, etc. Best of all it will give you a 3rd party verified list of all the debts.

Third, I suggest you get your tracking tools ready. Buy a large three ring binder, hole punch, and page dividers. I would also recommend either opening a account or buying software like Quicken to track all the financials you are about to collect to expedite evaluating the transactions. Again, doing under the guise of your new interest in being frugal or whatever will set the scent off your other motives.

Fourth, you need to print statements from all your checking, saving, and money market accounts in his/her/both your names going back 12 months. Even if they are available online or already in your account. You may need them for evidence in court, to file for D or post nup, and sometimes some things are easier to detect in paper reports than electronic. Put them in your 3 ring binder.

Fifth, you need to print statements from all your debt accounts in his/her/both your names going back 12 months, again even if available online for the same reasons and put them in your binder.

Sixth, you need to print statements from all asset accounts in his/her/both your names. Investments, retirement, property, car/boat/bike/etc and put them in your binder.

Seventh, you need to make copies of at least the last three tax returns and the accompanying W-2 forms and similar docs.

Eighth, if you do not already have this in place, you need to open a checking/saving account and a credit card that your WS cannot access in your name only. You need to start building this as your personal emergency fund, in case you have to leave, file for D, or purchase surveillance services or equipment on the sly. Start a plan on how you will build this fund. One way, for example, is to start pulling cash from grocery/big box store purchases with your debit card. It will not show up in your records as an ATM transaction, and you can deposit that cash into your account.

Ninth, I would strongly urge you get a safe deposit box and a PO Box in your name only that you and one trusted friend/relative can access. I would keep either hard copies or a USB fob with electronic copies of all the above info in it, plus any other evidence you do not want to lose. If you do choose to get a L, or order surveillance equipment or services on the sly, use your PO Box as the shipping address.

Tenth, use your and printed copies to go through all these documents line by line. Play with all the financial trend reports to see things in ways you may have not considered. Look at the paper statements too, sometimes things stick out better that way. You need to be able to account for all transactions, that you were aware they existed and you know what they were for. Be aware that there are ways to hide expenses, like the cash withdrawal with debit purchases example I gave earlier. Or paying for someone elseís X and they reimburse you with cash that is never deposited, etc.

Finally, if you havenít already, consult a L even if you have no plans to D. You need to know what your options are, and what happens if WS decides to file first. And there may be additional documents here that you may need to collect, and the L may make recommendations of things to do with various accounts to protect yourself. Many have free or reduced fee initial consultations, and some have free seminars to the public.

I know this may be the LAST thing you want to do right now, but you will be grateful you did when itís done. The important thing is to do it ASAP, especially if your WS is willing to be cooperative in helping you secure the documents. It is one of the best acts of self-care you can give yourself during this difficult time.

Dancetilldawn posted 10/11/2013 10:12 AM

Thank you for the advice! My head has been spinning with all this stuff and you organized it very well.
Oct 2011 WH started his new job in another country. Jan. 2012 WH and BD moved to that country. I stayed back for 7 weeks to get things in order for the family to relocate. Feb. 2012, (1 week before I moved) I found out about WH A's. Everyone told me to stay put, but my daughter was caught in the middle. I am trying to run two households. It is very expensive. We should be back in the US in July 2014. I am not sure what's happening with WH job. I think he will still be paid in Euro's. It's been very difficult for me to get simple documents, like pay check stubs and retirement accounts. Also, it's in another language. Any advice on how to find Swiss accounts in WH name? Or accounts in other country's?

My daughter will be 18 in 2016. I am trying to Fake it until then.

doggiediva posted 10/11/2013 10:39 AM

Hath no Fury, thank you for this helpful info...

In my case, I am retired and living off of my pension.

My WH is unemployed.

We are separated but still living under the same roof..

I have separate banking and credit cards in my name

WH has separate banking acct and credit cards in his name..

WH refuses to let me know his income source and amounts, I have been assuming that he gets unemployment, it is possible that he gets Disability/SSI.. He may be making money under the table, I have no way to find this out, he is very secretive..

We still have some joint debt left from fixing our house after a weather disaster damaged it...The debt is in his name as primary card holder..

I cannot afford to pay WH alimony in the case of D, I can't even afford to have a place of my own unless I return to work..

Our house is jointly owned and has been paid off for some time..

My back injury makes working full time painful and difficult which is what lead me to taking retirement(full retirement)

I know that in the event of D I will need to return to some kind of outside employment to support myself...

I don't want to have to work outside the home to have a significant amount of my income be paid out in court ordered support of WH in the case of a separation agreement/post D settlement once the D trigger is pulled..

I am at a loss...

[This message edited by doggiediva at 10:53 AM, October 11th (Friday)]

hathnofury posted 10/11/2013 11:49 AM

Dance, I myself have no personal experience in navigating this when another country is involved, but I promise you there are many in SI that have. Hopefully one of them will give you a PM, or better yet start another thread addressing that topic. I also encourage you to post these questions in general and s&d forums where you may have a better chance at getting a knowledgable response. Good luck!

hathnofury posted 10/11/2013 11:58 AM

Doggiediva, have you already consulted a lawyer about your options? More than one? Because there may be ways around your fears. When I JFO, I wanted to file ASAP. But after consulting with a L, I found out that was the worst thing I could do financially and for the custody of my children as things were. However, I was told of several different ways I could change the status of our financials and other things to address the custody concerns and now two years later, I am in a much better position to file. It varies so much state to state it would be hard to speculate here, but maybe another will chime in.

I'm very concerned you don't know about his income. How does that work when you file taxes? That is something that definitely needs legal advisement. It could be in your case you need a separation agreement where he trades his financial anonymity for potential alimony, idk. I know you don't want to pay alimony but it might be cheaper than fines for tax fraud or other debts he has acquired without your knowledge.

hathnofury posted 10/11/2013 12:25 PM

Doggiediva, I just thought of a couple of ideas for those in your sitch. If you can keep the house in a D, you could get a roomate(s) to offset expenses. Or it is possible you keep the house, rent it out, and your half of the rent income can supplement your retirement income to live elsewhere without having to get a job. I assume that half the proceeds of the sale of the house is not enough to live on. Whatever you choose, you both can't live there. Maybe he will forgo alimony if you let him live there until he is no longer able to maintain it?

StillStanding1 posted 10/11/2013 19:33 PM

Thanks so much. This is VERY helpful! I was so absorbed with trying to R and "fix" everything and everyone in my family, I didn't think about any of this. I needed this dose of reality. Time to take care of me!!!!

LifeIsBroken posted 10/11/2013 19:52 PM

Hathnofury is right on with this advice. I had no clue, had not handled our finances during the 35 years of our marriage and wow, did I ever get a very rude awakening ! As devastating as it is finding out the person you most trust is the person you can least trust, finding your world is falling apart, you MUST take these steps ASAP. You think and hope your WS will wake up; don't count on that. Fortunately, all the financial records were still in our home after he moved out so I was able to copy everything. He soon changed all his passwords so continued information after we separated was no longer available. He lied in court, no doubt about that. Everything HNF lays out is VERY IMPORTANT.

DecimatedHeart posted 10/11/2013 20:55 PM

Thank you for this post! Great info!!!

time2Bstronger posted 10/11/2013 21:11 PM

One of the hardest things Ive ever done was rush to the L , a few days after stbx walked out. I did this due to advise from more veteran SI ers. STBX was feeling guilty and signed for everything I asked for.. NOW, 9 months and a new (greedy) girlfriend later, hes not happy w/ our ."agree .mentioned. So glad I had SI better to file wholw he feels.guily. I lnow #1 thouvhf be was single

doggiediva posted 10/12/2013 06:47 AM

Oh yes, I have been to several lawyers..

All the lawyers paint the same picture in regards to what is and isn't legal and how D will look for me..

They say WH's fault in the breakup of the marriage doesn't factor in..

D seems to be greatly advantageous for the spouse who is unemployed and dependent on the working spouse..

I am willing to give up my share in the house in return for keeping my small savings and modest pension intact..If those are left intact I can find a way to rebuild my life..

I haven't discussed the above with WH, I don't want him to know that I am worried or at all concerned that he is gonna go after my pension in D..He is NPD and I don't want him to know my fears and use them against me to manipulate me..

I don't want D to ruin me financially in an ongoing way for the rest of my life..

The upcoming tax season in April 2014 will be the year/ tax return to reveal WH's income sources while he was unemployed for this past year..

For 2011- 2012 WH was employed off and on..

We file jointly..

My pension is in payout status with the expense of health insurance coming off of the top before the check gets to me..I do also have some money( not enough to live off of) in a 401 K, I don't touch or spend any of that money..

As the employee, my premium for health insurance is very little, but as a dependent, WH's premium is astronomical..

To continue these payments for him without interruption( in D )may be my form of paying alimony..

I can't afford to pay out any more money monthly for his cause( i.e. alimony for him to return to school, etc)

What is scary is that many people here on SI over in the D forum mention having to pay a huge alimony..Their monthly alimony sums are more than the total income that I bring in..

Definitely need to get creative in extricating myself from this M..

[This message edited by doggiediva at 10:28 AM, October 12th (Saturday)]

hathnofury posted 10/12/2013 08:18 AM


This is exactly why every BS should consult a L about their particular sitch ASAP. Every state is different, and then YOUR particulars may have different implications on the rules. In my case, I thought because *I* was the SAHM non-earner in a fault state I would be entitled to alimony. And I was, sort of - but because I had been married *only* 13 years, made a point to get a MBA before I stopped working to have kids, etc I was basically only entitled to a small amount of alimony for a short time. We had a huge amount of debt, way more than half of it in my name because I always had better credit, and while legally I was liable for half of all debts, creditors only care about what is in your name. In addition, we had moved to a new state where I had no family or business contacts, and if I moved the kids back to our home state, I would forgo a lot of SS/CS and would pay the lion's share to have the kids visit HIM. But my L gave me a couple of ways I could rectify many of these things prior to filing. I had the luxury of time and a guilty WS to make all of them happen. Now my only risk is if he decides to contest the post-nup/custody agreements in court for the sake of spite.

Again, DoggieDiva's sitch is an excellent example of why a BS needs to take charge of the finances BEFORE you get to the S or D phase - people in her sitch have an uphill battle. Not everyone gets the chance to do this while R is still possible or you have a WS that feels guilty or is completely obivious - if you have that advantage, use it.

I am willing to give up my share in the house in return for keeping my small savings and modest pension intact..If those are left intact I can find a way to rebuild my life..

I think it is great you know what is important to you, what you are willing to fight for - that is super important because you often have to give up things in D you want for things you need. However, in your case dealing with an NPD, you need to get on the same page with your L on how to achieve that. My take, and I don't have personal experience with D or NPDs, is that I would downplay this is what you really want. I would play up you want the house, or something that is super important to HIM. Make it look like it is a major concession to give up fake important point(s) to get the "measly" savings and pension. But I would also consult the S&D forum and the NPD forum for guidance, those folks are the pros. Good luck!

doggiediva posted 10/12/2013 09:58 AM

Oh I took charge of finances after D -day as much as possible given what we have in the way of assets and debts..We went thru a 2-3 year period of false R..

If I had my adult married life to do over again in hindsight, I would have squirreled money away for myself during the years of our marriage.. I would have kept it out of the banks...Instead, I had faith that WH would not intentionally wreck the life that we had built together..

As a side note the following is the advice I would give to my kids...

****You shouldn't trust anybody but yourself with your life or future and don't take either for granted..

Always always have the resources available for an exit plan ....
Acquire and keep enough skills, money and social support handy to rebuild your life in the case that you lose your spouse or SO******

So anyway, in the week following D-day, I took out 1/2 of what was in checking/savings and opened an account in my name..My pay checks have been direct deposited in that account..I do have just enough savings on the side which isn't my 401 K fund ( this is my spending money that I don't spend, lol ) to retain a lawyer..

I don't have enough money to finance a D if it is long/drawn out without finding another source of regular income or returning to work...

We are in an in-house separation as of now..

I don't think it would be safe for me to remain living in the house after I have WH served, and even if I go back to work I can't afford to support two households..

Fortunately all of the debt is in WH's name, but I do have good credit in my name independent of WH's. WH has NO pension or savings..

WH refuses to return to work, maybe because he knows I am not interested in R...At this point I don't have it in me to fake interest in R just to get him to go back to work.

WH feigns poor health, and mobility, health too poor to get ANY type of employment..The clincher is that he is more mobile than me...

Without filing I don't know how to find out if my WH is on SSI /disability..I am not on disability because I chose the option to take full retirement, more money coming in per month/ for the rest of my life..

Lawyers have advised me that the time of the year that one files can have major implications tax wise....

WH knows that I want a D as a long term goal...With that being said, we don't discuss D very often, and he doesn't know any of the thoughts swirling thru my head ..

I will downplay what I really need and want and when I file for D I am inclined to ask for the moon and negotiate down from there..

[This message edited by doggiediva at 12:07 AM, October 13th (Sunday)]

hathnofury posted 10/12/2013 10:56 AM

(((DoggieDiva))) You've done all you can. Hopefully others who read this thread with more options can learn from your experience and be able to avoid some of the difficulties you have now.

I STRONGLY recommend any BS, no matter what their sitch or relationship status, have an account only they can access for the event of D/false R/surprise death of spouse. If you are in limbo or not in R, it is critical you take half of all the assets anyway ASAP, for your protection and to send a strong message. When I JFO, and financial infidelity as well as marital infidelity was exposed, I demanded it as condition of considering R. When I found out there was TT, I made it a condition of considering R that ALL our emergency funds would be in the account in my name he couldn't access. That he could no longer be trusted with OUR money. He wanted R, so he complied.

Even now, in R, I have always told WS he can see the statements to see I am not squandering it away and that it is still in fact an emergency fund. We have an agreement on a percentage of "found money" (gifts, bonuses, etc) goes into that fund. We had an unexpected home repair expense, and after exhausting all other sources, I did relent and allow money to be borrowed from that fund. But it was paid back before any other debts were paid.

If there is no money to open such an account, put a plan in place to save up. Like I said before, tacking on a $10/$20 cash withdrawal to every grocery or big box store purchase is a stealthy way to pull cash that looks like another legit expense. Returning gifts for cash is another. Selling things on CL or ebay is another way. Taking on babysitting, lawn mowing, etc for cash is another. They may seem like small amounts, but they can add up quickly.

If you do have joint money but have not confronted your spouse, consider other ways to separate your own funds. Say you found a bank with a better interest rate/lower fees, or you want to diversify, or you need an bank closer to home/work, or you need an account at your parents'/child's bank so you can transfer funds more easily. Then open that account and "forget" to put WS on it. Then you can augment that account with the methods in the above paragraph.

doggiediva posted 10/12/2013 11:30 AM

HNF, thank you for your hugs and the support!

I hope I am helping people who read this thread with my situation..Reading of your situation and the situations of others has helped me..

Had I had the option of a remorseful WH, I would have made his protection of me financially a non negotiable condition of R..

In my state there is no such thing as legal separation. Post nups aren't legal and binding either..With that being said, post nups are considered good resources to guide the divorce court in drafting the D settlement for the divorcing couple..

To protect oneself in a state where there is no such thing as legal separation and where post nups are NOT binding, just ask the WS for a divorce..This is an option if the WS is remorseful and feels guilty enough to protect his or her BS financially..A remorseful WS who genuinely considers the BS as his/her LIFE partner will DO WHAT IT TAKES to keep the partner in his life even if that means dissolution of the marriage in the eyes of the law....

[This message edited by doggiediva at 11:31 AM, October 12th (Saturday)]

jjct posted 10/12/2013 20:23 PM

This needs a swirly-target thingy.

Crushed1 posted 10/12/2013 22:27 PM

Great post hathnofury!!! One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't protect myself financially. We ended up with $17,000 missing!!!!

doggiediva posted 10/12/2013 23:42 PM

I have a question regarding ways of making extra cash...

If one sells on Ebay or Etsy, isn't there a digital trail or records for each sale? Usually Pay Pal is the vehicle in which the seller gets paid..

I guess it doesn't matter if what I am selling isn't a valuable item and it is something of mine..

I am an artist in my spare time(photography).. I sell my work from time to time, so that could be a source of extra money for me...
My sales aren't consistent or regular though..
At this point I am glad that my photography can't be considered as a consistent/regular source of income to be factored into anything D related :/

Nature_Girl posted 10/12/2013 23:51 PM

I want to add that if you're still investigating or suspicious, you can easily, quickly & legally have "alerts" on your various accounts & cards sent to your private email or phone. Often our WS's quite arrogantly think we BS's are too stupid to track spending. I was shocked when the alerts started rolling in on expenditures for jewelry and other items. NOT meant for me, either.

doggiediva posted 10/13/2013 11:29 AM

This thread does need a target..It is still a young thread, but already a good resource for BETRAYED partners who stand to have the rug pulled out from under them financially as well as emotionally..

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