The paperwork, the conversations, the meetings, the disagreements — navigating the early stages of a divorce can be exhausting. Although even amicable divorces take time and effort, there are some steps that can help reduce the headaches that can result during the property division portion of the divorce. Five specific steps that apply to most couples include:
- Know what you have. Before asset division can take place, you must know what assets you have. These assets can include everything from savings accounts to real property, retirement assets, investment portfolios and business interests to works of art and jewelry. Gather this information, along with valuations for how much these assets are worth, to help better ensure a fair split.
- Know what you owe. It is also important to know what debts are present within the relationship. Mortgages are a popular example, but you should also be on the lookout for any unknown credit card debt.
- Track what you spend. If you already keep a budget, continue to do so. If you have not yet started one, begin one as soon as possible. If spousal support is granted, this type of financial tracking can help guide the calculations.
- Gather documentation. Put together copies of financial information like banking accounts, investment accounts, credit card statements, pay stubs and tax paperwork.
- Coast. This is not the time to make big financial decisions. Wait until after the divorce is finalized.
A piece in USA Today discusses additional tips, including the benefits of being conservative with spending until you have your finances in order after the divorce is complete. It is important to note that preparation is not the same as hiding assets. Financial moves that involve deception can have serious ramifications. However, when taken wisely, steps towards financial preparation prior to divorce can help ease the property distribution process of the divorce.
In addition to aiding in preparation for the divorce, one can mitigate the risk of financial surprises after a divorce by seeking legal counsel. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and mitigate the risk of any financial surprises once the divorce is complete.