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Divorce and finances: how to prepare

For California couples who are ending their marriage, property division negotiations can become complicated, and when one or both parties are unsure of what their financial situation will look like after the divorce, they can become crucial. There are ways for people to prepare for this before the process begins, however.

The financial planning stage can start months before an actual divorce takes place. One way to prepare is to track expenses and to anticipate future ones. For some couples, this is part of their regular budget planning, but for those who were not tracking, as soon as they realize divorce is an option, they should begin. During this time, it is best to continue using accounts, whether joint or individual, in the normal way and to avoid making major changes to them.

This is also the time to gather financial documentation. In a high asset divorce, this could include mortgages and other loans, statements for investment, retirement, credit, checking and savings accounts, tax returns for several years, pay stubs from the most recent months, and a complete list of the assets that each person brought into the marriage and those acquired after the couple wed. Particularly where assets are concerned, the spouse collecting documentation might encounter resistance from the other spouse and might need to resort to legal means to get it.

During this process, a person might receive a lot of well-meaning advice from family and friends. However, each state has different laws regarding divorce, so it might be beneficial to contact a lawyer to provide assistance from the outset.