Whether a divorce is where your marriage has been heading for awhile or you were surprised by your partner’s request for a divorce, it’s important to try to set aside your emotions. Instead, try to apply these tips in preparation for the journey in front of you.
- Get organized. Gather up all the paperwork for any marital property you share with your spouse including bank statements, credit card statements, appraisals for expensive items, retirement funds, tax documents, real estate, and investment documents. Also, if one was signed, locate and review your pre- or post-nuptial agreement. Getting organized prior to the divorce proceedings will help reduce your stress and keep the proceedings moving forward quickly. It can also show that you are willing to cooperate and help prevent your spouse from attempting to hide any assets.
- Get Help. Navigating through a divorce by yourself can be stressful and extremely emotional, even if you aren’t surprised by the divorce. At the very least, you should hire a divorce attorney to help with paperwork, sort your finances, deal with the other party and to fight for your rights and needs throughout the process.
- Get your credit report. Doing so will help separate your debt from your spouse’s. If you are an authorized user on any of their lines of credit, take the necessary steps to be removed so that their debt does not reflect poorly on you. Contact your own credit card companies to have your spouse removed as an authorized user on your lines of credit so that you are not responsible for any of their future purchases. Also locate which debts are shared, like a mortgage or car purchase, so that the responsibility of the debt can be settled during the divorce proceedings.
- Apply for your own credit card. It is common for credit scores to drop after a divorce, so it is important to strengthen your score by yourself. Open the card, make small, affordable purchases and pay it off each month to help boost your credit.
- Review your beneficiaries. Be sure to remove your soon-to-be-ex-spouse as the beneficiary of any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or wills and replace them with another designee. Review other important documents such as Power of Attorney, living will or heath care proxy forms and replace your spouse on these forms as well. You don’t want them to stand to inherit your assets or be in charge of your medical care.
- Remember that equitable does not mean equal. Yes, your financial and property assets will be divided between you and your spouse but not necessarily as a 50-50 split. Also keep in mind that fighting to keep the house may not be worth it if later down the line you can no longer afford it on your income alone.
- Review your finances. Your expenses won’t be cut in half just because you are now half of a couple – create a new budget based one your income alone. Don’t include alimony or child support since they are not guaranteed sources of income. Its best knowing what you can definitely afford going forward without your spouse. Its also wise to hold off on any big purchases or sales as many people make rash financial decisions after a divorce that can have long term financial consequences.
Source: U.S. News. “7 Financial Steps to Take When Getting a Divorce”, accessed Dec 4, 2016