This is not intended to be an in depth discussion of how to prepare for your divorce. Rather, this is a simple bullet point list of things you should do if you are preparing for a divorce.
Before You File For Divorce
- Consider marriage counseling. Is there any chance for reconciliation?
- Get an attorney. Divorces can be complicated. If there are children involved or any significant property, you need to get an attorney.
- Decide whether you will fight to stay in the martial residence or make other arrangements for where you will live during the divorce.
- Get copies of any pre-marital or post-marital property agreements.
- Evaluate whether you should amend your will prior to filing for divorce.
- Open a new checking and savings account in your name. Change your direct deposits to this account when you file.
- Open a credit card in your own name. Use only for emergencies.
- Obtain information on health insurance. You should remain on your spouse’s policy (if your spouse’s employment provides insurance) until the divorce is final, but start looking at your options post-divorce as early as possible.
Protect Your Privacy
- Get a P.O. Box. You will want a private address to receive mail that you may not want your spouse to see, such as correspondence from your attorney. An alternative is identify a friend or family member whose address you are comfortable using.
- Change your passwords. Change your passwords for every single account you own individually. Do not change passwords on joint accounts. This includes e-mail accounts, social media accounts, as well as online financial accounts. Put a password on your phone. Use random passwords that are not related to anything in your life so that your spouse will not be able to guess them.
- Make your social media accounts private. Do not delete information but make the accounts private so that the only people who can see what is on your account are those you allow.
- Make a list of monthly bills you and your spouse pay. This list should include who you pay, the amount you pay, and what service you receive.
- Prepare a personal balance sheet showing you and your spouse’s net worth.
- Prepare a financial information sheet showing your and your spouse’s income and expenses.
- Prepare a financial information sheet showing your individual income and expenses when you file for divorce.
- Make a list of financial accounts, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. Obtain current balances and statements for the past 12 months.
- Make a list of all credit cards in you or your spouse’s name.
- Make a list of retirement accounts, including IRA’s, 401k’s, 403(b)’s, or any pensions. Obtain current balances and statements for the past 12 months.
Information On Your Children
- Update your contact information at the school if your address changes on filing for divorce.
- Get a copy of your kid’s class schedule.
- Make a list of your children’s extracurricular activities including the activity dates, times, and days of the week.
- List and get statements for any child care expenses such as after school or day care.
Get Copies of Documents
- Obtain a copy of your credit report.
- Get copies of your recent pay stubs.
- Get copies of your spouse’s recent pay stubs.
- Get copies of tax returns for the past 3 years.
- Get copies of account statements for bank accounts, credit card accounts, and any other financial accounts. Go back at least 6 months and further if you have concerns about where money was spent.
- Get copies of statements for retirement accounts or other benefits. You should get statements all the way back to the beginning of the account or the marriage, whichever is earlier. You should also get copies of the plan documents.
- Get copies of business documents if you or your spouse own a business. This would include certificates of formation, company agreements, shareholder agreements, partnership agreements, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, purchase agreements, and any other documents reflecting the organization or financial condition of the business.
- Get copies of any trust agreements under which you or your spouse are settlors, trustees, or beneficiaries.
- Get copies of real estate documents. This includes deeds, deeds of trusts, mortgage documents, and any other conveyance documents.
- Get copies of car titles and car loan documents.
- Get copies of any promissory notes under which you and your spouse owe or are owed money.
- Obtain contact information for your financial adviser.
- Obtain contact information for your CPA.
- Get copies of any other documents showing any liabilities of you or your spouse.
- Get copies of documents concerning any large or unusual expenses incurred during the marriage (such as a home remodel or refinance).
- Make a list of all your personal property, such as furniture, art, and jewelry with the approximate value of each item.
- Take pictures of items of significant value.
- Take pictures of each room in your house and its contents.