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What You Should Be Doing to Financially Prepare for a Divorce

Before getting married or having children you likely considered the financial impact of your decision and worked to stay ahead of the curve and make decisions that would have a positive financial effect. That same level of planning needs to be applied to your divorce as well.

Divorce can be an emotionally tumultuous time, but a lot of the decisions you make leading up to and during a divorce also have a serious impact on everything from your general finances to your business. Just as you prepared to get married and possibly start a family, it’s wise to take the same level of preparation to face a divorce head-on.

Gather Documentation

Don’t wait until you’re right in the midst of a divorce to start gathering the necessary paperwork and documentation. If you’re even considering a divorce, or think your spouse may be, starting putting together the documents you’ll need.

These documents can include past years’ tax returns, information on insurance, and documents pertaining to retirement accounts.

It’s also a good idea to start keeping a record of all of the valuable items you and your spouse own.

The more proactive you are in taking inventory of these items, the more smoothly the divorce is likely to be.

Speak with a Family Law Attorney

Even if you’re not 100 percent sure about a divorce, even contemplating one is grounds to speak with a divorce lawyer.

It’s important you’re proactive and do this early on to avoid common mistakes many people make when they’re in a divorce.

Your lawyer can guide you through the initial steps and ensure you don’t make any costly missteps.

A divorce attorney can also help you better understand the financial situation you may be facing—for example, your lawyer can walk you through how much money you could reasonably withdraw from a joint checking account before a divorce is finalized. There are financial factors that go into play immediately, and those that become relevant only after a divorce is finalized, so by working with your lawyer from the early stages, you’ll be better equipped to deal with financial situations.

Know Your Credit and Make Changes If Necessary

When you’re considering a divorce, begin looking into your credit history. This is important from multiple standpoints. First of all, if you end up filing for divorce an angry spouse could try to cause you harm through shared financial accounts. Keep this in mind, and close these accounts if necessary.

It may also be possible that your spouse has financial accounts you’re unaware of—you need to learn about these and see what, if any impact they may have on your credit. You may make the decision to cancel joint credit cards, particularly if you have the feeling the situation could turn hostile once you actually file for divorce.

Finally, if you’ve primarily been a stay-at-home spouse, you may have no credit, and it’s important you begin establishing your financial footing before even filing for divorce, so you’re able to build up your credit and make big purchases, or even do things like rent a new home.