Ground Rules for a Stealth Divorce

Margaret Klaw

In my post last week about whether a Katie Holmes-style secret divorce is smart, I advised against it—unless you feel you’re up against a physical, emotional, or financial threat from your spouse.

If that’s the case, and secrecy is best, here’s how to lay your plans without sacrificing self-protection.

1.Consult and retain a good divorce lawyer first, using funds that your spouse can’t trace to you (cash from a separate account, a credit card in your name only, a loan from parents or friends).
2.If your fear is physical and/or emotional abuse, make sure you (and your children) have a safe place to stay before the complaint is served.
3.If your fear is financial, i.e. that your spouse will empty joint accounts and shut down credit cards, make a plan with your lawyer to address this. You might have to deposit funds in a separate account and get a credit card in your name prior to filing.


The timing here is a delicate issue; you don’t want to tip your hand, but you will need to secure your assets.

Be prepared. Have you ever been afraid to leave a relationship?

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner with Berner Klaw & Watson in Philadelphia. She blogs at Family Law Unraveled.