If your marriage has seen better days, you may be ready to face the reality of divorce. Ending your marriage will certainly bring many personal changes, such as rediscovering things you once enjoyed on your own or even rejoining the dating world. However, divorce often brings changes to one’s finances that are not so pleasant.
Struggling financially is common in the months and early years after a divorce. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the negative impact a divorce can have on your finances. By taking care of some details before you even file for divorce, you can prepare yourself for the difficult financial questions that will certainly arise during the divorce process.
Being proactive can protect your future
Like many, you may have relinquished the budget to your spouse. This is often convenient but not very wise in the long run. It may mean you have a limited idea of the income, debts and assets in your marriage, which is a disadvantage to you when it comes time to negotiate for a fair division of those items. Since you may not know how cooperative your spouse will be once you have filed, completing the following tasks as soon as possible can help you prepare for your divorce:
- Find and make copies of vital documents, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments and assets.
- Collect recent pay stubs for both you and your spouse.
- Make a list of your joint debts.
- List any assets or debts you acquired prior to the marriage.
- Find your tax returns for the last three years.
- Begin tracking your expenses and creating a budget based on your projected post-divorce income.
- Discuss with your attorney how to handle your life insurance, estate plan and other documents that include your spouse as a beneficiary or agent.
- Avoid overspending or accumulating new debt.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a legal professional.
Perhaps the wisest thing you can do for yourself is to be careful where you go for advice about these matters. Friends and family may have their own ideas about how you should handle your divorce, and you may even find some interesting information online. However, it will be your attorney who knows your situation in light of New York law. Following the advice of an experienced attorney may improve your chances of meeting your goals and emerging from your divorce with a brighter future.