Before Filing For Divorce, Prepare Financially

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A divorce can be a difficult process for all members of a family. But, by making a few carefully thought out preparations, you can both protect your assets and ensure a smoother transition for everyone involved.

Initial Steps

Even before contacting a divorce attorney, you may want to make an exhaustive inventory of all marital assets. You will have to list property you own in divorce negotiations; preparing a complete tally in advance will make this simpler, help you avoid forgetting to disclose easy-to-overlook assets like pensions and assist your family law attorney in crafting a negotiation strategy.

Especially for collectibles, jewelry, art or other pieces of property whose value can be difficult to determine, appraisals often prevent conflicts later over how much a given item is worth. You should also ensure that you are aware of all your spouse's assets that may not have ever been mentioned to you. Investment profits must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, so examining tax returns is a relatively convenient way to uncover the existence of stock-trading accounts or other assets.

You will also want to begin thinking about how your financial life will change after the divorce. Prepare a budget projection to determine whether your individual income, in addition to any potential divorce settlement, will meet your expenses. Remember, if you wish to remain in the family home, take into account the substantial costs home ownership entails even beyond the mortgage, including things like utility bills, property taxes and upkeep expenditures. After a divorce, child care costs or visitation expenses can also become burdensome, and you should factor them in.

Finally, you should consider how your credit will be affected by divorce. It is possible that your spouse took on debts that you are liable for without your knowledge, or damaged your credit score by processing transactions through a joint account. Request your credit report and look for any irregularities. In addition, obtain a credit card in your own name to begin building your personal credit.

Ask Your Attorney

Of course, you and your attorney will need to contemplate many other matters together later in the divorce process. But, by addressing a few essential financial issues before entering into divorce negotiations, you may be able to secure a more fair and favorable settlement.