A Successful Divorce Requires Good Planning
Fighting over money is by far the most common cause of divorce. One would assume then that divorce rates increase during economic downturns; ironically, the exact opposite is true. Economic turmoil has historically been a hindrance to divorce as any people are uneasy about ending the relationship during such a difficult time. One contemplating divorce should keep several things in mind.
Experts in divorce will suggest planning six months ahead of filing. This is because the expense can be high and it can take that long to gather the appropriate information and documents. The better planned your approach the easier it will be to navigate the process. Six months also allows one to save up money to hire an attorney.
Keep it Quiet
Many professionals recommend not telling anyone you are considering divorce. If you do, a well-meaning family member or family friend will hint your plans to the other spouse in an attempt to save the marriage. Until you file, it is best to keep your spouse in the dark on your plans to protect your own best interests.
Determine Assets and Debt
Because you will inevitably have to divide the marital assets and debts, it is crucial to determine what assets and debts belong to you as separate property and what belong to both you and your spouse as marital property. Of the marital estate, knowing the amount of debt and assets will allow you and your attorney to strategically assess your game plan.
Documentation is Your Friend
If spousal or child support will potentially be an issue, get copies of your spouse’s recent pay stubs and tax returns to verify income levels. The spouse being asked to pay support certainly has an incentive to underreport income. When separation is on the horizon, one should not trust their spouse about financial matters.
Also obtain copies of important documents such as bank and credit card statements, real estate deeds, car titles, mortgage documents, investment and retirement statements, wills and life insurance policies. This will help verify the value of the marital estate for equitable division.
No matter the circumstances, divorce is an emotionally and financially difficult ordeal. Because there are so many factors to deal with, consider discussing your situation and your options with an experienced divorce attorney. Being prepared well ahead of time will pay off in the long run.