3 Financial Steps to Take Once You've Decided on Divorce

If you and your spouse have decided on divorce, you're likely scrambling to ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row. One thing that many divorcing couples neglect, however, is their finances. Below is an overview of three financial steps you should take once you've decided on divorce and how you can begin to go about taking them.

Gather Necessary Documentation

When filing for divorce, there's a process known as discovery that will take place toward the beginning of the divorce proceedings. This requires that you disclose all financial information in a timely manner.

The first step towards a timely and complete discovery submission is to collect all documents that relate to your finances. This includes previous years' tax returns, pay stubs, household bills, insurance policies, and any insurance- or retirement-account information. The more financial documentation you can provide, the better off you'll be and the sooner you can move on in your divorce proceedings.

Make a Budget

If you've filed for divorce, it's likely that your living arrangements and expenses have changed considerably. If this is the case, it's time to make a budget so you can get an accurate picture of what you'll be required to pay each month in order to stay afloat financially.

In cases of amicable divorces, it may be easy to split household expenses and other joint expenses right down the middle. Unfortunately, not all splits are amicable. To get an idea of which bills you'll be paying each month, make a list of all accounts (joint and separate) that have your name on them. Consider that, until a judge orders otherwise, you may be responsible for the full cost of joint bills to avoid late payments and penalties. If your soon-to-be ex is willing to help you stay current on bills, it's still a good idea to put away a small amount each month in case they later renege on their agreement.

Speak with a Financial Adviser

Depending on the length of your marriage, you may have quite a few joint accounts, such as life-insurance and retirement savings, that you're unsure of how to split. Or, perhaps you'd just like to get a clear picture of how divorce will change your long-term savings goals. Whatever the case may be, it can be helpful to seek out the services of a financial adviser.

If you've never worked with a financial adviser before, it's a good idea to look for one who has experience handling divorce situations. There are a lot of things that couples who are splitting may not consider, but an experienced adviser can ensure that both of you have your finances in order.

When you file for divorce, there's no doubt that you'll be dealing with a whole lot of change. To learn more about the financial changes that you're likely to undergo during a divorce, consult with a financial adviser today.