When couples split, the wife's standard of living dives by 30 percent the first year after a divorce, while the husband's rises 10 percent or more. And alimony is a relic of the past. Fewer than 15 percent of divorced women are awarded it. Of those, 34 percent never receive a penny of what's due them.
Protect yourself by taking these steps if your marriage is in jeopardy:
Step 1: Establish your own credit
Make sure your name is listed on all household accounts and investments. And be certain you have at least one credit card in your name. This will establish your own creditworthiness, which is essential when you're on your own.
Build a good history by paying off your balance regularly and on time. Open a bank account in your own name too.
Step 2: Call an attorney
Find an impartial person to evaluate your assets and push for the best possible settlement. You might even look into hiring a new type of accountant, called a "forensic specialist," who can ferret out any assets you might be unaware of.
Remember you're paying for this expert's time -- anywhere from $200 to $600 an hour.
Step 3: Time your divorce
If the two of you were married at least 10 years and you don't remarry, you can qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse's earnings when both of you reach 62. That's even if he has remarried or hasn't yet retired and begun to receive benefits himself.