The decision to divorce is a major one. Many couples who have mutually decided that divorce is the right choice for them may still find themselves overwhelmed by the process ahead. Even the simplest divorces can quickly become complicated when issues involving finances or property must be decided.
There are several things that you can do to prepare yourself for an upcoming divorce. While taking these steps will not guarantee a stress-free divorce, they will likely help the process go a little bit smoother.
Obtaining financial information
Gathering information about your finances is an important first step. This includes information on all marital assets and debts. While most people think of assets as things such as houses or cars, things such as personal property, award memberships or even pets are considered marital assets, subject to division in a divorce.
Having a full and complete list of this information is crucial, so it may be a good idea to order a copy of your credit report. There may be debts that you were unaware of, or old debts that should no longer be on the report. Start making a written list of everything and update it as you gather more information.
Open new accounts
While many married couples still retain separate accounts, some may have opened and maintained joint bank accounts throughout the marriage. When a divorce is on the horizon, open a separate bank account. This will help you retain a clear picture of marital and separate funds going forward.
Don’t worry if you are unsure about some of the information or concerned that you may not have a complete list. You and your spouse will have to fill out financial affidavits as part of the divorce process, and while they should be filled out to the best of your ability, it is common for them to have incomplete information, especially at the start of the process.
Every divorce is going to require basic information such as your name, social security number, date of birth and employment information. Gathering the last few years of tax returns is also a good idea.
While these steps may seem overwhelming, taking things one step at a time and staying organized will minimize anxiety. If questions arise, professionals are available to help.