If the decision to get divorced has been made, what should you do to prepare?
If you are the primary wage earner you have very different concerns about getting divorced than if you are the dependent spouse.
The primary wage earner wants to limit his/her financial exposure and the dependent spouse wants to maximize his/her financial gain. It is important to discuss financial planning for a divorce with your attorney before notifying your spouse to limit or maximize your property settlement. In either case, planning is necessary. The following guidelines are for consideration only.
Ok, here is the legal disclaimer:
DO NOT ACT UPON ANY FINANCIAL PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS ADDRESSED BELOW WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY
Considerations for the dependent spouse:
- Make copies of your tax returns for the last (3) years.
- Make a complete list of all items of value including cash in your safety deposit box(es), jewelry box(es), under your mattress and/or the sock drawer!
- If you or your spouse has any retirement accounts or pension, obtain a copy of the pension plan and the yearly statements.
- Make a copy of your Last Will or Trust documents.
- Make a complete list of all automobiles, boats, airplanes and recreational vehicles owned or titled in your or your spouse’s name. Make a copy of registration(s), title(s), loan amounts and payment statements.
- Make a list of your monthly living expenses. (Including: rent/mortgage payments, utilities, food, clothing, laundry, transportation, medical/dental, education, insurance, vehicle payments, and entertainment.)
- Make a complete list of all business entities and/or ownership interests that you or your spouse now have or have had an interest in. Make copies of all financial business records.
- Make a complete list of creditors (persons or entities you or your spouse owe money to) and debtors (persons who owe you or your spouse money.) Include all outstanding benefits and obligations, including mortgages (application for mortgages), conditional sales, contract obligations, or promissory notes. Make copies of all statements and write down the balances owing.
- Make a copy of all Property deeds and appraisals. Write down the address, legal description and amount paid for all real property including the marital home, vacation and/or investment properties.
- Make a list of all personal property this includes all property that is not land (household furniture, furnishings, appliances, clothes, jewelry, tools, etc.)
- Make a copy of all investment documents and statements. Including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
- Make a copy of you or your spouse(s) gross compensation package, inclusive of all benefits.
- Try to have a complete physical to prevent potential non-coverage expenses.
Considerations for the primary wage earner.
- Try to keep the marital assets liquid or in cash.
- Try to have all your mail sent to your place of business.
- Try to keep all the assets in your own name to give you more control.
- Try to add your spouses name to all liabilities.
- Try to postpone bonuses and defer income until after the divorce to reduce liability for alimony and/or support.
- Try to terminate the marriage before your pension vests.
- Try to put away as much cash as you can.
- Try to pay all State and Federal taxes owing before the divorce.
Things you should not do:
- Do not make any major purchases (house, boat, car) or allow your spouse to make any major purchases on your behalf.
- Do not sign any documents or financial instruments without an attorney’s review. Never sign anything in blank.
- Do not quit work.
- Do not give your spouse unlimited access to your credit cards, checking account or other assets.
- Do not make any gifts (even to the children) of any marital asset.
- Do not transfer or assign any marital asset.
- Do not have an affair. If you already are having an affair, use discretion. Who is at-fault can have an affect on the division of assets, child custody, child support and alimony.
- Do not pay off your spouse’s separate debts, meaning debts held in only his/her name.
- Do not move out of the house (unless there is abuse or another compelling reason).
Remember, your attorney should be competent, compassionate and honest. A competent family law attorney knows the law. A compassionate family law attorney will ask the client what he/she wants. An honest family law attorney will tell the client if his/her goals are achievable.
Let us help you successfully navigate one of life’s most difficult chapters by focusing on you.
Download our free CHOICES brochure right now.