A divorce is not just the dissolution of a marriage: It can also mean the dissolution of your long-accumulated finances.
Even the most amicable of divorces can take a financial toll on both parties. In order to protect your financial assets in a divorce, consider some of the following advice:
Take account of your assets
First, take a close look at your assets and carefully identify all of them. This is a crucial step in order to establish how much wealth you have and where it is. Find out which assets are in your name and which are in your spouse’s, including bank accounts, mortgages, investments and retirement funds.
Get it in writing
Obtain meticulous, up-to-date documents detailing all of your assets. Compile as much documentation as you possibly can. Don’t rely solely on electronic records, either: Get paper documentation as often as you can. Include bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements and any other financial documents from the past several years. These records will be crucial during the divorce settlement, particularly if you do proceed to court.
Secure your liquid assets
It is not unheard of for one spouse to leave the other without any cash. That’s why it is a smart idea to secure at least some of your liquid assets. If you have a joint bank account, create a new one under your name and put a certain amount of money in it. Make sure the amount is enough to cover your bills and any other expenses for a few months, in case of an emergency.
Learn the laws
The laws regarding divorce can vary widely from state to state. For example, Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the spouse filing for divorce does not need to prove the other spouse at fault. The legal process surrounding divorce can be very complex, and it is often wise to consult an attorney.
Start a team
Divorce is not a process that you have go through alone. Surround yourself with a team of experienced professionals who understand the divorce process and can advocate for your best interests. These experts can include financial advisors, divorce attorneys, couples counselors and mediators.
Figure out your wants and needs
There are two possible routes for reaching a divorce agreement: Negotiating privately with your spouse, or pursuing litigation. In either case, it will be much easier to reach a settlement once you are aware of your financial wants and needs. If you are not sure of what you want from your divorce arrangement, you could ultimately end up with a decision that is not to your benefit.