Divorce can be devastating on your emotions, your family and your bank account. While many have cited the dissolution of their marriage as the reason for financial despair, this does not have to be the case. Following a few simple steps to prepare while you are still married can mean smoother proceedings and an easier transition into single life once the decision is final. Here are some things to do to be financially ready for divorce.
1. Save up
Obviously you will need some cash to afford the legal fees that accompany this type of case. Hiring an experienced attorney has immeasurable benefits, such as higher chances of getting a more favorable decision that will grant you a better custody and alimony arrangement that an inexperienced attorney is less likely to achieve. Saving up for the best is a wise move with substantial payouts.
2. Gather statements
One way to save on attorney fees is by completing the discovery process on your own. Before you separate from your spouse, gather all necessary documents that will disclose the financial situation of your marriage. U.S. News reports that Florida requires proof of income for the past three months, life insurance documents, tax returns from the last three years and retirement plans. You should also have records of all credit cards and bank accounts as well as 1099, W-2 and K-1 forms.
3. Separate finances
Not only will your court case be simpler, but your transition to life without your partner will be easier if you have already separated yourself financially. After gathering the needed documents, it is time to take your name off the accounts and create your own. Here are some ways to do this:
- Remove your name or your spouse's name from any mortgages or loans
- Open new credit cards and close old ones
- Start your own checking and saving accounts
- Create your own insurance plans
- Put utilities in your name
If you leave joint accounts open, you will be accountable for debt incurred, even if it was your partner's responsibility.
4. Track bills
You may need to prove what your standard of living was while married in order to achieve a similar result after divorce. Prepare by keeping records of all bills for your current lifestyle so you can help a judge see what you would like to work toward with your settlement.
While divorce can be costly, following these steps can reduce your final expenses. Be sure to find a reputable attorney who can fight for your rights, and you will be on your way to financial and marital freedom.