If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of the property division phase of your divorce.
What to do? Where to start? Here are four advance planning tips that should make the property division process easier for you to manage.
1. Gathering documents
In preparing for property division, the most time-consuming task is pulling together documentation, so begin as early as possible. The basic documents you will need include:
- Checking and savings account statements
- Retirement and investment account statements
- Loan documents such as your mortgage, auto loan and any personal loans
- Recent pay stubs
- Credit card statements
- List of marital and separate assets and debts
2. Tracking expenses
Perhaps your spouse has handled most of the financial aspects of your marriage, but now is the time to organize your current household income and expenses. Include anything you pay for, such as food, clothing, transportation, childcare, home maintenance and entertainment. This information will also be useful when setting up your post-divorce budget.
3. Avoiding spending sprees
Do not run up your credit cards prior to the divorce. Spend conservatively. Your attorney can advise you about using any joint accounts you and your spouse might have. At the same time, refrain from making any big financial decisions, such as changing the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, until the divorce is final.
4. Relying on professionals
Divorce is among the most difficult life events, so do not hesitate to ask for help from professionals. In addition to your divorce attorney, your team may include an accountant, a childcare expert and perhaps a certified divorce financial analyst. Knowing when to request information and support will help you face property division with greater confidence.