When you and your spouse decide your marriage is truly over and it’s time to divorce, you might not realize how much preparation you should do before filing, especially when it comes to your finances. You most likely will feel overwhelmed about how divorce will impact your finances and how you can best move forward.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is get organized. Before you divide assets with your spouse, you need an accurate view of what those assets are.
Here are some of the documents and financial statements you’ll need to gather to do that:
- Bank account statements
- Investment statements (including information about 401Ks and IRAs)
- Mortgage and loan documents
- Real estate deeds
- Credit card statements
- Outstanding car loan debt, home equity loan debt or other debt
- Wills or trusts
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns for the past three years
You’ll want to organize these so you can easily refer to them if needed in the coming months.
Separate marital property from non-marital property
Once you’ve compiled this financial information, you need to start determining if any assets or debts are non-marital property. In Virginia, property that is owned by one spouse before marriage or that was acquired through a gift to or inheritance of one spouse is considered separate property. Also, any student loan debt you or a spouse accumulated before marriage is considered separate property after divorce.
Hire an experienced attorney
Often, determining what is marital property versus nonmarital property isn’t easy. That’s one reason hiring an experienced divorce attorney is helpful. It also will help relieve your stress. An attorney will make sure no mistakes are made during your divorce and can advise you on how to receive a fair divorce settlement.
Decide what you will compromise on
Divorce means you will have to compromise on some things. So now is the time to decide what assets you are willing to let go. If you’d rather keep the marital home than get your share of your spouse’s retirement accounts, then you can let your attorney know that you are willing to let go of your share of that asset.
Cancel joint credit cards and establish your own credit
Finally, you’ll want to cancel any joint credit cards and open your own. You want to establish your own credit, separate from your spouse’s. You also don’t be responsible for any credit card debt your spouse accumulates while you wait for your divorce to become final.
Divorce can be one of the most financially difficult things people face in their life. By gaining a solid knowledge of your finances and working closely with an experienced attorney, you can navigate this well and move on.