It’s said when you’re going through a tough time, it helps to know you’re not alone. In the U.S., there are approximately 2.4 million divorces per year, and nearly half of all marriages in California do not last. Divorce is often a painful and difficult time in your life, both personally and financially. Careful planning goes a long way in helping you navigate these until now unchartered waters.
How to Prepare for Separation and Divorce
Start by making a checklist. It will not only help you get your thoughts in order, it can be emotionally calming, as well. A sense of purpose goes a long way in instilling confidence. You want to gather together documents that will be used to determine your family’s expenses:
- Five years of state and federal tax returns.
- Three years of bank statements.
- A recent credit report, which you can often obtain online for free.
- Three years of credit card statements, individually and jointly held.
- Current balances and monthly payment amounts on other debts, like a mortgage or line of credit.
- Current pay stubs for both spouses.
Next, assemble all the documents showing the distribution of your assets and debts:
- Both current and date of separation bank, brokerage, investment, or other financial accounts statements.
- Both current and date of separation retirement account statements. If any retirement account existed prior to the marriage, include a statement from the date of marriage.
- Appraisals for real or personal property.
- Copies of any homeowner’s policies showing value of the contents of any residence.
- If either or both of you own a business: five years of corporate tax returns, balance sheets, shareholder agreements, and profit and loss statements. You’ll also need copies of all business insurance policies.
Finally, make an inventory of all your marital property. A quick way to do this is by photographing or videotaping all the contents of your home or homes. Don’t forget the outdoors, and include cars, boats, recreational vehicles, etc. If needed, you can always create a list later which shows the actual value of the items.
Consult an Attorney
From separation to final divorce, remember to take your time and don’t create any unnecessary pressure on yourself. Do your research, and don’t make decisions based on what happened to a family member or friend. And most of all, understand the California family law legal process.
You don’t have to immediately retain a family law attorney, but it helps to consult with one who can give you specific advice on your own issues. It isn’t easy to make sound decisions when you’re in a stressful situation and an attorney can advise you on how to avoid making mistakes that may affect your divorce as it moves forward.
Getting a divorce can be a financial disaster, which is why it is best to hire a lawyer who specializes in divorce or family law. They will know how to best protect your assets and guide you through the process with ease. For more information or to schedule a consultation, click the button below, or call us at 619-289-7948. We look forward to helping you!