Divorce is never an easy process. For many women, it is difficult to know where
to begin with so many changes on the horizon. It is easy to become overwhelmed.
Below, we have shared a checklist of important steps to help you feel
more in control and get the process underway as smoothly as possible.
Gather all of your financial records. Having all of your financial records together in one place will save
you both money and time. Examples of documentation that you should get
together include income tax returns, banking information, financial statements,
loan applications, brokerage statements, statements pertaining to stocks
and bonds, 401(k)/pension plan documents, wills and trust agreements,
insurance policies, motor vehicle financing agreements, real property
deeds, and mortgage documents. Seek documentation of anything you think
may be an asset. It is advisable to keep copies of these documents in
a safe place that your spouse does not have access to.
Open a P.O. Box. Opening your own post office box will ensure that your mail will be secured.
This will prevent your spouse from obtaining sensitive and confidential
documents like communications from your divorce attorney or new credit
card and bank account statements. Additionally, you may be able to get
your mail faster since it only needs to travel to the post office.
Begin putting money away for attorney fees and other costs. Don’t allow yourself to get into a situation in which you cannot
proceed with your divorce because your spouse controls access to the family
funds. Not only will this slow the divorce process, but it will also interfere
with daily living expenses and could potentially force you into signing
a lopsided divorce agreement that favors your husband.
Open up new bank accounts. Immediately set up your own checking and savings account apart from your
joint marital accounts. Your lawyer may instruct you to withdraw up to
half of your marital funds to place in your new account.
Open up new credit cards in your name. In order to establish your own credit, you may want to open up a credit
card in your own name. Having your own card can also help with day-to-day
living expenses if other funds are not available during your divorce.
Do this before your divorce proceedings begin to ensure that you can obtain
sufficient credit, especially if your income is significantly less than
your husband’s, or if you are not working.
Review a copy of your credit report. Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor it for evidence that
your husband is improperly dissipating marital assets. It is also a good
idea to consider a credit monitoring service that can alert you to any
changes in your credit history.
Change your will and living will. You probably don’t want your soon-to-be-ex-husband to inherit all
of your assets if you were to die before the divorce is finalized. You
also may not want him to make any medical decisions on your behalf. Talk
to your attorney about changing your will and living will during your divorce.
Begin inventorying all non-marital property. Begin taking inventory of all of your separate (non-marital) property.
Separate property includes any property you owned before the marriage,
gifts given solely to you by a third party, and inheritances received
solely by you at any time. Since things sometimes tend to go missing during
divorce, be sure to take time-stamped photos of everything.
Begin inventorying all joint or community personal property. In addition to making a list of your personal items, it is a good idea
to also document all joint property, or property acquired using marital
funds. Even if you think your situation is simple, it is essential to
inventory your property so that you know exactly what is at stake and
whether you have a potential property dispute.
For more information on how to prepare for a divorce, please contact an
Orange County divorce attorney at The Buncher Law Corporation.
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