Even the most amicable divorce can be taxing on multiple levels. If you are facing a divorce, it is especially important to get your financial affairs in order to prepare for the times ahead.
Untangling two people’s finances is complicated, and each situation is unique. Only qualified professionals familiar with your case should be giving specific advice; however, the following tips should provide a good starting point.
Start tracking your household’s income and spending as early as possible in your process. This serves two purposes: it helps your attorney, and later a judge, decide how to split assets and debts and whether to award spousal or child support. It also helps you build a budget post-divorce. Include everything you spend money on: bills, food, entertainment, transportation, clothing, home maintenance, child care, and so on. Include “one-time” purchases, such as replacing appliances, as well as vacations and other trips. Use your bank and credit card statements to estimate spending from past years and project future expenses.
It can be tedious and time-consuming to gather financial records, but they are important because they tell the story of your marriage’s financial health and give your divorce attorney more information about the case. Start with the following:
- Recent pay stubs
- Checking and savings account statements from the past year
- Credit card statements from the past year
- Income tax returns from the past three years
- Current retirement account statements
- Investment account statements from the past year
- Ledgers from any loans over the past year, including mortgage, auto loans, personal loans, etc.
- A list of any assets and debts brought into the marriage and those accumulated since marriage
Your attorney can help you determine if any other documentation is needed.
Avoid Big Financial Decisions
All of your major financial changes will be determined as part of your divorce proceedings. While it might be tempting to get a head start on things like changing your life insurance beneficiaries, it’s best to hold off. Taking action too soon without the permission of the court can result in penalties. Your divorce attorney can advise you if you’re unsure about a particular move.
Separating joint finances is difficult, but it’s important to keep things above board during the divorce process. Continue to use your accounts – individual and joint – as usual for the time being. If you don’t have money set aside for a divorce attorney or related expenses, try to agree with your spouse on a relatively conservative amount you each can spend. If your split is not amicable, your attorney can advise you of your options.
Ask for Help
Divorce is a difficult process, but help is available. Many financial planners, divorce attorneys, and other professionals have helped clients through divorces before and will know how to advise you. Having a qualified team and support network in place can make the process seem much more daunting. Hiring a divorce lawyer is not an act of aggression: many upcoming decisions are too weighty to be made without mediation. A qualified divorce attorney can help you know what to expect and how best to proceed, making the process much easier for you.
About The Attorney
Matt is a partner at Blizzard and Zimmerman. He’s a Top 40 Under 40 Award Recipient in Family Law by the American Academy of Attorneys. He has a passion for the law has led him to develop a practice that helps individuals in their everyday lives. Matt also regularly represents clients in matters dealing with the Texas Estates Code, which includes probate and guardianship cases. The Abilene civil law attorney is a member of the State Bar of Texas, American Bar Association, and Abilene Bar Association. He also speaks Spanish. He has also been recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 by the National Association of Trial Lawyers. He also speaks Spanish.