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Getting prepared early can help improve your divorce outcomes

Thinking about your upcoming divorce may feel overwhelming. The end of a marriage can be an emotional time, and the divorce process itself can seem daunting. While you may need some time to grieve, getting prepared early has many benefits.

There are some aspects of your divorce that you will never be able to control, so it is important to make the most of the aspects you can control. One of the easiest things you can control is how prepared you are.

Gather important documents

When getting started preparing for divorce, it is important to collect all your family's important documents. You should make sure you have your own copy of each document filed in an organized way, so that you can find it quickly if needed.

Some documents you may want to gather, include:

  • Bank account statements from the past year
  • Retirement account statements
  • Loan documents
  • Credit card statements from the past year
  • Recent pay stubs for you and your spouse
  • Income tax returns from the past three years
  • Real estate deeds
  • Estate planning documents
  • Insurance policies

Consider how property might be classified

Another step you can take when preparing for divorce is making a list of all of the assets and debts your family has. Then list next to each item whether you believe the item is marital property or separate property.

Most property and debt acquired during your marriage will be considered marital property. Marital property will be divided during your divorce. Although courts often divide marital property equally, property can also be divided unequally.

Separate property does not get divided during divorce. Separate property generally includes assets or debts you or your spouse owned before marriage. Property that only one spouse inherited can also be separate property, whether it was inherited before or during the marriage.

Anticipate future expenses

In addition to gathering important documents and classifying what you own, you may want to track your family's current expenses and expenses from the past year. Pay attention to what your family spends on household bills, food, clothing, home maintenance, gas, entertainment and other expenses.

This knowledge can help you anticipate what your expenses might be after your divorce, so you can plan accordingly. For example, if you want to keep the marital home, you may need to pay the mortgage, household bills and home maintenance costs with only your income. If you choose to live somewhere else, you might expect that some of those expenses will likely change.

Although you will not be able to control all aspects of your divorce, you can control how prepared you are. Your preparation can help you know what to expect during the divorce process, make well-informed decisions throughout the process and predict what your needs may be post-divorce. It can also make sure your divorce team has all of the relevant information as soon as possible, so it can develop the best strategies for your situation. These and other benefits can help you reach more of your desired outcomes during your divorce.

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