If you and your spouse are facing divorce, the idea of having to go through property division may feel overwhelming.
However, if you plan ahead and organize your finances, the property division phase of your divorce will no longer seem so intimidating.
You will need to present a comprehensive picture of your financial life. Begin gathering documents as soon as you can as this task takes some time. Start by pulling together the basics:
- Bank account statements
- Retirement and investment account statements
- Credit card statements for the past year
- Pay stubs
- Loan documents such as those pertaining to your mortgage and car payments
- Income tax return copies
Household income and expenses
Begin tracking what comes in and what goes out. Household expenses include anything you spend money for. Examples include food, clothing, home maintenance, childcare, entertainment and transportation. Gaining a thorough understanding of your household expenses has the additional benefit of providing guidelines you can use in putting together a post-divorce budget.
Your attorney will need a complete list of your assets and debts but remember to keep one for yourself.
Separation of accounts
As you approach divorce, you may need guidance regarding any joint accounts you have. For instance, you may be able to continue using a checking account you share with your spouse, as long as you are prudent about spending. You should also refrain from making any major financial decisions, such as changing the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Changes to wills, retirement accounts and related decisions will occur as part of the divorce process itself. Meanwhile, planning in advance will pay dividends in terms of allowing you to face property division with greater confidence.