How to keep from losing everything in a divorce, in 6 steps
As you begin the process of divorce, you’ll want to get the most benefits out of your settlement as possible. This starts by being aware of what you have saved up and being clear about what you’re wanting to claim. Depending on where you live, it may be tricky to separate any assets that are jointly owned so be sure to read what steps you’ll need to take. You may also want to consider finding a qualified financial planner in addition to a professional divorce lawyer to ensure your finances are in capable hands.
If you’re staring down the face of an impending divorce, you’re not alone: It’s divorce season.
The antithesis to December’s engagement season, divorce filings begin to spike in January, peaking in February and March.
While it might be an emotionally harrowing time, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. You need to protect yourself, your kids, and your future, and that means getting your finances in order — pronto.
If divorce is looming, here are six ways to protect yourself financially.
1. Identify all of your assets and clarify what’s yours
Step one: Identify your assets. Before you can proceed with anything else, you need to know how much money you have and where it is. Next, clarify what’s in your name and what belongs to your spouse, including any mortgages, bank accounts, investments, and other assets.
“A judge is going to care more about a good financial statement than a picture of someone going out of a motel,” Stanley Corey, a certified financial planner and managing director at United Capital in Great Falls, Virginia, told Business Insider. “It all comes down to the basics of the dollars and cents, so get current statements of value of assets and get things clarified.”
2. Get copies of all your financial statements
Get everything in writing. Everything. While the court may not care about proof of your spouse’s affair, it will care about proof of your assets, so start compiling as much documentation as possible.
Be careful not to rely on electronic copies, however, warns Shelly Church, a certified financial planner and senior vice president of investments for Raymond James. You don’t want to risk getting locked out of your information if a vindictive spouse decides to change the passwords to all of the joint accounts, so print everything out.
This includes bank account statements, tax forms, brokerage firm statements, and any financial documents you’ve signed in the last few years.