The first few weeks of a new year are all about fresh starts. If a divorce is on your mind, know that you can make things easier by getting your finances in order. For a head start on your fresh start, follow the guidelines below and get your fiscal situation on track for a potential divorce.
No matter how well you seem to be getting along with your spouse, being proactive means setting up plans now. That way, no matter what happens later, you have what you need to make financial plans. That means you need to locate and secure your own copies of important financial documents like bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, deeds, vehicle titles, and more.
You might lose access to joint checking and saving accounts at some point. It's wise to set up your own accounts in your name only and fund the accounts with enough money to pay bills for at least a month or so. Consider going paperless so that the accounts remain private and online only. It's important to know, though, that your new accounts and all financial matters from both sides must be disclosed as part of the divorce process at some point.
Whether you are in the habit of keeping a budget or not, now is the time to create a new one. After you separate, make a list of your bills and income. Divorcing parties can be paid spousal support (alimony) if a need can be shown and having a budget is part of that evaluation. Then, create a budget covering your financial picture once the divorce is final considering any permanent support benefits like child or spousal support.
Be Wise About the Family Home
Housing prices continue to rise across the country, making the family home more of an important asset than ever before. Be sure, though, that you can afford to pay the mortgage and other costs of being a homeowner before you automatically ask for it in the divorce. Also, consider the costs of buying or renting a new place if you decide not to reside in the present property.
Know About Your Financial Assets
Marital assets are usually divided according to state laws. However, many divorcing parties fail to realize they may be entitled to part of their spouse's retirement fund. Speak to your divorce lawyer about completing paperwork for a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). This order must be completed and signed by the judge before the divorce is final and the proceeds can be used to add to or fund your retirement account.
Speak to a divorce lawyer for more tips on being prepared financially for your divorce.
For more information on family law, contact a professional near you.