Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that it hurts. It hurts you emotionally, sure, but it can also hurt you financially if you don’t take the proper precautions. As a Miami divorce attorney team, we’ve seen a lot in our many years of practice, including the financial devastation that can—and often does—happen.
The one thing you absolutely must do when considering a divorce is to get your finances in order first. Here’s how you can do it in five easy steps.
1. Make Sure Your Financial Records Are in Order
The very first thing that you need to do when getting yourself financially ready for divorce is to gather all of your financial documents. In an ideal world, you should be able to get five years of financial documentation. If that’s not possible, get what you can so that you can get a good idea of how your financial situation looks. Documents to gather include tax returns, bank statements, investment documents, and payroll information. Once you have everything in one place, make copies and keep them in a safe place outside of your home. Doing so will protect you from “missing” documentation.
2. Take an Inventory of Your Assets
A big part of the divorce process is splitting a couple’s assets. So that you and your attorney can prepare for your case, take an inventory of all of your assets, jointly owned and separate. Small, valuable items are extremely important to inventory because they have a habit of disappearing unexpectedly. To protect your property from theft, take digital photos to include in your inventory.
3. Get Your Own Accounts
Once you decide that you want to go forward with the divorce, you’re going to want to open up your own bank account if you don’t already have one. Though most financial institutions take your privacy very seriously, you will need to take confidentiality into your own hands here. Don’t use the same bank that you and your spouse currently use. When you open your account or apply for a credit card, make sure that your mail doesn’t get sent to your home where your spouse might see it. You might need to open a P.O. box.
4. Cut Your Expenses as Much as Necessary
Divorce can be expensive. Are you going to be able to afford your new single life with your current habits and lifestyle? If not, you will have to take a look at your budget and start planning and saving as soon as possible, just in case.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report
When you got married, you probably said that you would support your spouse through richer and poorer. It turns out those are not just empty words. When you get divorced, you will have to deal with your marital debts as well as your assets. In addition to gathering all your financial documentation, you will also need to keep an eye on your credit score to make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary. If you see anything that does not seem right, speak to your attorney about how to proceed before confronting your spouse.
Don’t Divorce without Preparing Yourself!
Just because divorce is painful doesn’t mean that you can’t protect yourself from the worst case scenario. Use these tips so that your divorce doesn’t do more financial damage than it has to.