The decision to end a marriage is rarely an easy one and can it often take a long time to find the clarity that you’re making the right decision. When you have that clarity, the next step isn’t starting the legal process, it’s preparing for divorce and that can often take a long time.
In my interview with “Jeff,” he shared that his wife has bipolar disorder. While his marriage has been over for some time, and he has now told his wife he wants to divorce, they are still living together. He’s trying to help her prepare for living solo. Nevertheless, because of her mental disorder, he says he has to be prepared to leave at any time and to do whatever is necessary to protect himself and their two sons. Here’s what Jeff says about building his ‘escape plan’.
The things that are important to me are obviously my sons and myself.
So, I needed financial resources. I needed the ability to conduct business. I needed to be able to protect some of my keepsakes and assets that might be damaged. So, my particular escape plan comprised of a separate bank account.
I adjusted my withholdings in my paycheck. You can only imagine the math major I had to be to do those because I had to keep the amount that was going into our joint account the same so my wife wouldn’t notice a change. So, I had to adjust my withholdings to increase my dependents and then split my direct deposit. I was able to skim off like $500 a month by claiming three extra dependents in my federal withholding.
I also had some of my own assets thankfully, that I was able to move into a separate bank account.
When starting the bank account, you need a post office box to send things to. The bank made some mistakes and actually had some stuff go to the house and it did create a pretty big mess.
When you go to get a post office box, you need to show your I.D. and they have to assign it to your own address. So, you need a trusted friend to open up the P.O. Box for you and put their primary address on it. You can’t receive mail on it unless you’re there too and you show your I.D. But then your name becomes secondary and you can receive mail for it.
If you have your own bank account, get your own credit card, then do the autorenew for your storage unit and your P.O. Box, so that goes to that credit card that’s on your own bank account. That way you won’t forget to do it and have all your stuff closed, locked up or whatever.
Mail yourself a few pieces of mail beforehand with your return address to your work address or somewhere else, just to make sure it works. I did that and the Post Office screwed up and was returning all of my mail, including checks and credit cards. You’ve got to account for mistakes.
Be careful when you change addresses of sensitive things, because as a security measure companies will put mail to your house saying, “We changed your address from this to this post office box,” and you will get caught that way. If you want to convert things like your own retirement accounts or things like that, what you can do is go to paperless and change your email maybe. You’ve got to be careful about what actually shows up at the house. I don’t know if switching to paperless would show up at your house. It depends on different providers.
The bank that I chose is still sending mail to my home address, even though I’ve changed my address four and five times. They’re a big company and they make lots of mistakes. So, when you do go to a bank, don’t give them your I.D. and let them start typing in your information. You need to give your address and your trusted friend’s address as the home address and don’t even let them know what your other address is.
They won’t accept an obvious P.O. Box, because you need something on legal records. You need a real street address. If you really want to be crafty about it, you can do Mail Boxes, Etc. place that has a real street address and a box number. You can use Mail Boxes, Etc. and it looks like a real street address too. That’s another way to do it.
I tried registering my storage unit. They said, “Oh, we need a real address, not a P.O. Box.” I said, “Crap.” I gave them my work address and of course they sent mail to it about insurance for the storage unit and advertisements. So, you need that trusted friend.
I know that I can go on Paypal right now and say, “Transfer $400 from my checking account to my Paypal account,” and then all it shows up on the bank statement is “Paypal Transfer for $400.” Then, from that Paypal account, you can go anyway you want with that money and it only stays in Paypal for the naming and everything, because that transaction with the bank is over.
If you are really desperate and you need money and it’s a hard time getting it, you can do stuff on eBay and sell it and have the funds go into your Paypal account. You can build it up that way by trying to sell stuff or get rid of stuff or do craft stuff or Etsy or whatever.
I also have a suitcase packed under my desk at work with clothes for the boys and me. The post office box has a letter I mailed to myself with cash and checks and other things that if I had to just up and disappear in the wind, I could.
Jeff’s experience underscores how complicated this can be especially if you’re not ready to talk to your spouse about divorce and you’re trying to keep your preparations secret. So it’s important to understand how transactions will get processed BEFORE you initiate them. Jeff’s guideline not to trust any statement made by a service rep that was conditioned with, “I think that’s what we do …”
Incidentally, I have a P.O. Box for my business and it also comes with a regular street address so I can use that for services like Federal Express which won’t normally deliver to a P.O. Box. Other than companies in my local town, other businesses would have no idea it’s a P.O. Box.
Are you building an escape plan? What actions have you taken? What obstacles have you run into?