When divorce is imminent, finances may seem like the cherry on top of an awful situation. The level of complexity and thoroughness required is mind boggling. It doesn’t have to be. Here are several tips to help you in approaching your finances:
- Look at your credit history.* Don’t have a credit card? Apply for them now, and work towards establishing a good credit history. If your current credit history could be better, make sure to pay creditors now before the divorce begins. Start improving your credit history pronto!
- Find out exactly what your spouse earns. This is easy if your spouse gets a regular pay stub. If they’re self-employed, owns their own business, or for whatever reason, gets part of their salary in cash, make sure you keep track of the money coming in for several months.
- Know your household budget and expenses. Precise awareness of your average monthly expenditures as well as other monthly expenses will help determine potential spousal support or child support.
- Inventory your household and family possessions. A list of your belongings will help you make educated decisions when it comes time to split the property.
- Try to determine and tackle family debt before divorce. Allocating marital debt is one of the most difficult items to negotiate. Make sure this remains separate from any debt that was incurred by one spouse alone (“non-marital debt”).
- Have a way to access money of your own. Divorce can be expensive. Make sure you have your own money saved up for any and all situations.
- Gather all your financial documents. This can be a pretty hefty task.** Organization is key. Not only will having all your ducks in a row help your divorce move more efficiently, it will also inform important decisions and agreements you will have to make down the line. So search for any and all financial documents and make sure to keep them labeled, organized, and easy to find. Here is what you need to gather:
- Income tax returns, including W-2, 1099, and K-1 forms from the last five years.
- Business financial statements for you and your spouse. Include a net worth statement, as well as income statements.
- Include all income information since your last tax return.
Personal property tax returns.
- Banking information including monthly bank statements, retirement accounts, savings and loan institutions, credit unions, etc.
- Financial statements that had been prepared by you or your spouse at any time in the last five years.
- Any loan applications made in the last five years.
- Brokering statements.
- Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
- Stock options, including restricted Stock.
- Pension, money purchase plans, profit sharing, deferred compensation agreement, and retirement plans that you or your spouse have through a corporation.
- Wills and trust agreements executed by you or wherein you have a present or contingent interest in the past five years.
- Life insurance or certificate of life insurance policies now in existence.
- General insurance.
- Outstanding debts owed by you or to you (including those co-signed by you).
- Business records or ledgers in your possession.
- Real property, including any deeds of property you and your spouse may have an interest in – together or separately, as well as all purchase agreements, mortgages, notes, property tax statements, rental or lease agreements, appraisals, and any expenses associated with all properties.
- Sale and option agreements on any real estate owned by you, either alone or via another person or entity, jointly or as a trustee or guardian.
- Any personal property. Include any and all documents on any furniture, artwork, fixtures, jewelry, antiques, collections, equipment, etc. that you own, either alone or jointly through another person or entity, i.e. trustee or guardian.
- List of personal property owned by you prior to marriage, or any personal property acquired during the marriage via inheritance or as a gift.
- Motor vehicles owned by you and your spouse, individually or jointly, in the last five years. Include all financing agreements.
- Corporate interests.
- Any partnership or joint venture agreements that you have been a party of during the marriage.
- Employment records during the term of marriage. Make sure to include any fringe benefits available to you or your spouse from any business entity, be it traveling expenses or the spa.
- Employment contracts for which you or your spouse performed services in the last five years, including a list of oral contracts.
- Charge account statements
- Membership cards or any documentation showing participation in any country clubs, health clubs, spas, private clubs, etc. during the last five years of marriage. Include monthly statements.
- Any judgments or pleadings that you’ve been a party to, either as plaintiff or defendant, during the marriage.
- Appraisals of any assets owned by you for the past five years.
- A list of safe deposit boxes and their contents.
- Anything else you think may be an asset.
*”10 things to do if Divorce is imminent”, by Rich Stim (www.divorcecent.com)
**Created by the Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, in 2011 and amended 2014 (www.bedrockdivorce.com)
See “Five best financial tips for women divorcing in 2013”, by Jeff Landers (www.forbes.com)
Originally posted by Amy O’Hanlon on Friday, October 17, 2014 9:54 AM.