When you’re approaching a divorce, it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible about your options and make some good financial decisions.
That’s not always easy. If your spouse has typically handled most of the family finances, you could be blindsided by the amount of debt you owe — or completely uncertain about your assets. That makes it very difficult to plan for your future.
Meeting with a financial advisor before you take steps to make the divorce official can be a wise decision. To prepare, you should gather the following:
- The last three years worth of tax returns (since your spouse may have hidden income or assets in the past that might be uncovered that way)
- Copies of the deeds to any real property you or your spouse own
- Copies of any insurance policies, including those for the family business
- Investment account statements, including those held solely in your spouse’s name
- Retirement account statements
- Copies of bank records for the last three years (just like the tax returns, these could reveal hidden income or assets)
- Copies of credit card bills and loan statements (to help assess your marital debts)
If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you also want to bring those with you. They may have a direct bearing on how much you’re entitled to receive from a spouse’s pension, investments or other holdings — and what debt you may owe.
Once you’ve spoken with a financial advisor, you and your attorney can better craft a plan for life after your divorce.