We've already discussed Four Things To Do When Considering Filing for Divorce. These steps will help you determine you path, and if you've decided that divorce is imminent there are also a few financial preparations to take before you file and begin your single life again.
You've been sharing assets as a married couple: earnings, spending and access to various funds. There are surprises when you return to registering for accounts as an individual. Here are six things you can do to ease the transition.
Order a credit report and get your own credit card.
If you've been sharing credit cards with your spouse, under both names, you'll want to make sure that your own credit rating is strong enough to carry you independently. Stop using joint cards and open your own credit line to establish an individual history. Anywhere you plan to move, whether that means buying a new house or renting an apartment, the first thing checked will be your credit report.
Start your own checking account.
The divorce process costs money, both in legal counsel and through the various administrative fees. Unfortunately, some spouses also respond irresponsibly to a divorce and drain the joint checking account out of spite or frustration at their situation. Protect your earnings by putting your money aside where only you can get to it.
Take inventory around your home.
Just like a joint bank account, an angry spouse can hide or sell assets when a divorce turns ugly. While we hope that's not the case, you never know how someone will respond to a negative situation. It's always best to provide a security net just in case. Make note of assets in your home, in storage and in a safe deposit box.
Inventory your income and finances.
Keep documentation of your income, from paystubs to tax forms and invoices if you run a business. Locate and record your retirement accounts, savings, investments and any other items that factor into your overall net value. This information is essential when dividing assets in the settlement.
Make copies of important documents.
As you know from changing jobs, applying for passports or paying your taxes, legal documents are always needed and there's often just one copy. There will be two of you in the divorce negotiations, so prepare ahead and make copies for yourself. As you make inventory of your assets, don't just keep a list, but photocopy tax forms, bank statements, mortgage documents, Social Security statements, vehicle titles, wills, etc. These provide proof of ownership and, with bank statements and retirement accounts, they also provide a snapshot of the current value in case a spouse acts irresponsibly during the process.
Keep a parenting journal.
Custody battles are often the hardest part of a divorce settlement, both the emotional strain and the challenge of transitioning your children through the divorce. When custody enters the discussion, showing a written record of your activity with your children will provide evidence of how you interact in routine life and not just at the big events. Make note when your spouse does not participate or misses events.
These are just starting tips, as you'll need to do more planning throughout your divorce before you start over outside of the marriage. It's a complicated and emotionally challenging time, but knowing what steps to take and when to take them will ease the transition. The less strain felt during a divorce, the easier it is to accept for all parties involved: yourself, your spouse and your children.