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Financial steps to take in a divorce

People in California who are getting a divorce might need to take a number of steps to protect themselves financially. First, a person may want to talk to an attorney about the financial aspect of the divorce even if a decision has not yet been made. The person might also want to pull and review credit reports.

If the divorce is going to happen, a person may need to begin separating themselves financially from the spouse. This could include closing or freezing any shared accounts and opening new accounts in the name of the individual. The person might also want to remove the spouse's name as an authorized user from any accounts. The couple may agree to keep one joint account open for shared expenses, such as taking care of children. The names of both people should be on any jointly owned property, such as a home or vehicle.

It will be important to locate all financial information; this may include old retirement accounts or life insurance policies. A person may want to consider working with a divorce financial analyst who can perform a number of tasks, including finding hidden assets and valuing assets. People should educate themselves about finances if needed and create a new budget. Finally, it might be necessary to make changes to an estate plan.

A person may want to work with an attorney to create a timeline of when to take certain financial steps. In a high-asset divorce, the process of property division could become particularly complex and might involve real estate holdings, investments and business interests. If one person owns a business, it might need to be divided, or there could be a prenuptial agreement protecting the agreement in case of a divorce. A spouse who earned significantly more than the other may be required to pay support.

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