Separating you and your soon-to-be ex’s finances during divorce can be tricky. This is especially true if you have been together many years or if there are some high-value assets that the two of you share. When divorce seems inevitable, there are steps that you can take to make the division of your finances easier. Staying ahead of the process will smooth the transition and keep the division fair and equitable.
As long as you don’t jump the gun with changes or leave yourself in the dark about your finances, you can prepare your finances for divorce with ease. By the end of the process, you may find yourself even better prepared than you expected to tackle big financial questions.
Seven tips to get ready for divorce
Here are just a few ideas to help jumpstart the preparation process:
- Take advice with a grain of salt
- Keep track of your spending
- Gather important documents
- Prepare for pushback
- Save big financial decisions for later
- Be conservative with your spending
- Know when to find help
Take advice with a grain of salt
Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone knows your unique situation. Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all deal – everyone’s situation varies, and divorce laws are different in every state. If you find yourself with questions, you may want to reach out to a professional.
Keep track of your spending
Start to document your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses, but you will also want to write down less common expenses like auto maintenance and vacations. It is not enough to have what you need for bills; now is time to be aware of the other types of expenses that can sneak up. By making a document that tracks your spending, you will have a better idea of your post-divorce budget, and it may help the judge decide how to split debts and assets or help the judge award support.
Gather important documents
Gather important financial documents like tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, mortgage documents, retirement account statements, loan records, a list of assets that you brought to the marriage, a list of assets accumulated during the marriage, and any other relevant financial information. This can be a tedious process and can be complicated if there are accounts that you do not personally control, but having these documents will help you have the whole picture financially.
Prepare for pushback
Some divorces are very amicable and pose no hassle when it comes to sharing information, but not every divorce is the same. Do your best to gather needed paperwork before filing. If you and your spouse can’t agree, and you cannot access important documents, you may need to investigate whether the court can order the release of those documents.
Save big financial decisions for later
There’s no rush to change beneficiaries and wills. In fact, by moving too fast to change financial documents, you may fall into contempt, or a judge may choose to award your spouse. Any changes to important financial documents will be handled during the legal proceedings, so wait until then and save yourself the hassle.
Be conservative with your spending
It may be tempting to dip into the savings accounts and splurge before the divorce, but resist if you can. Try to maintain your normal financial expenditures. It can be detrimental to your case if you dip into financial accounts more heavily than before.
Know when to find help
If it all seems overwhelming, know when to reach out for help. Getting a divorce attorney does not necessarily mean that you are acting aggressively towards your spouse. An attorney is knowledgeable about the many details that go into dissolving a marriage. Other professionals can lend a hand also, such as certified divorce financial analysts.