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Preparing for divorce

When you know divorce is on the horizon, it is time to take steps to protect your financial interests and to make the process smoother. Planning ahead and acting promptly can save a lot of stress and bitterness in the future.

Finances

Protecting your financial interests is an important part of any divorce. Even in initially amicable divorces, asset division can become extremely contentious. With this in mind, document everything. Create a list of all assets you and your spouse own together and those you own separately. Assemble copies of all available documentation concerning the assets' origin, value and current conditions.

Documentation

Make sure you have current statements on all bank and investment accounts. Other necessary documentation includes your personal and business tax records, insurance policies and deeds. Consider which assets are most likely going to become the center of disputes, and gather documentation to support any interest you may have in them. This includes documenting any improvements or increases in value you contributed to your spouse's separate property.

Your credit

After the divorce, it will be very important for you to have good credit. Separate your accounts and credit lines from those of your soon-to-be ex as soon as possible. Credit monitoring can be a good tool to check if your spouse tries to use your personal information to open lines of credit. Unfortunately, many spouses anticipating divorce choose to incur large debts that waste assets and ruin their spouse's credit.

Personal items

Document the existence of any personal items you will want to keep, including jewelry or electronics. This will serve as proof if your spouse decides to remove them before the proceedings.

Spending marital funds

Keep paying for necessary expenses as usual, but do not pick this time to make major purchases or incur large debts. Courts tend to view this behavior with suspicion, and you may open yourself to accusations of hiding or wasting assets. Likewise, do not transfer assets or take any other actions that could significantly affect finances. Ask your attorney before you withdraw or transfer funds.

Plan your position

Whether you anticipate an amicable divorce or a tough battle, you can benefit by figuring out your position in advance rather than reacting to your spouse's demands. Consider the arrangements you want for child custody, and decide whether you want to keep the marital home and what you think would be a fair division of property.

An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your rights as well as your options for pursuing them. Consult a reputable firm in your area who can guide you through the divorce process with a solid strategy.

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