Get organized before filing for divorce

Going through a divorce can be a traumatic and stressful experience as ending a marriage often creates chaos in a person’s life over personal, emotional and financial well-being.

One way to take some control over the process and reduce anxiety is to prepare on the front end by creating a complete list of separate and joint assets for both spouses.

Three steps to help you prepare for divorce

Much of the apprehension over ending a marriage stems from uncertainty over your financial situation when you are on your own. In order to start your new life in the best possible position, take these steps well before the process begins:

Inventory all assets: First, identify all assets owned by both spouses, and have documentation to back it up. This includes:

  • Bank and investment statements
  • Mortgage documents
  • Real estate deeds
  • Personal loan paperwork
  • Credit card statements
  • Copies of wills or trusts
  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Business ownership documents
  • All property owned individually and jointly

You should also make copies of nonfinancial items, such as funeral arrangements, long-term care insurance policies, premarital agreements and estate planning documents.

Organize documents: Once you have a comprehensive list of all assets, you can save time and money by putting similar documents together, such as all homeownership paperwork in one section, grouping income-related items and so forth. Doing so helps your lawyer get a more accurate picture of you and your spouse’s net worth and helps expedite the process.

Classify assets: Once you have discovered and organized assets, go one step further and separate them according to whether they are owned by one or both spouses. If you are unsure how pensions or other complicated accounts are divided, your attorney will help you sort that out.

Knowledge provides comfort during divorce

Yes, divorce is stressful, and no one ever wants to believe they’ll have to take steps to end their once-loving marriage. But when divorce becomes the best or only option, knowing how your financial situation will be affected can provide some much-needed relief.