When you got married, you probably did not even think about divorce being a possibility. Moreover, you probably didn't bother to draft a prenuptial agreement. Fortunately, if you are thinking about divorce, it is not too late to take steps to protect your assets. With a little bit of planning, you can prepare for divorce and protect your interests so that when it comes time to start your new life, you will be ready.
Divorce, like marriage, is a major life event. Once you make the decision to move forward with ending your marriage, things will completely change. You or your spouse might move out of your house in Lakewood, there will no longer be two incomes to take care of expenses and you will have to work out a custody schedule for the kids. While there are some things that you will simply have to deal with as they come, you can still take steps to prepare your finances.
Watch your expenses
As soon as you make the decision to divorce, one of the first things you should do is start closely watching your income and expenses. This has two purposes. First, it will help you develop a post-divorce budget so that you have a clear picture of what you need to live a reasonable lifestyle. Second, it will provide a basis for dividing assets during the divorce negotiations or if a judge makes the decision regarding the division of marital property.
Gather financial records
Make an inventory of all sources of income and the expenses of your household and gather the necessary documentation that backs up this information. If you are unsure where to begin, it is usually best to start with your tax returns. Obtain copies of the most current one in addition to copies from the last several years. Your tax returns are a good place to start because they often have information such as sources of income, including wages and investment income. Also, gather bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage documents and any other documentation that includes sources of income, debt and expenses. Once you have these, make copies and store them in a safe place that only you can access, such as a safety deposit box.
While some divorces are amicable and it is easy for each spouse to obtain the finance documents they need, not all divorces are so easy. Expect some resistance when you ask your spouse for certain items, such of copies of their paycheck stubs. In addition, if your spouse has been the one to manage the household finances, you could be in for a fight when you start asking about financial information. You may need to speak to your Lakewood attorney about obtaining a court order to force your spouse to hand over financial records.
If you have been considering divorce, the above tips can help you prepare so that the transition to your new life goes more smoothly. With a little bit of planning, you can protect your finances so that you will be ready for a fresh start.