If you’re on the emotional rollercoaster that is divorce, you may feel too distracted to worry about your future financial situation or to prepare for meeting with a lawyer. There are some things, though, that you really shouldn’t leave for the last minute. Understanding your income and debts now puts you in an advantageous position, and there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you’re on track.
Gather Your Financial Paperwork: It’s wise to have all of your monetary information together before you meet with your divorce lawyer. In fact, divorcing couples are expected to make full and frank financial disclosure to the other for the purposes of equalizing net family property. Collect all of your financial paperwork, including bank statements, credit card statements, and information about stocks and bonds. You’ll need information about all of your assets and your debts, including your mortgage. This is also a good opportunity to make sure your taxes are up to date.
Prepare a Budget: Your monthly finances are guaranteed to change once your divorce is final, and it’s a good idea to know where you may need to cut back. You may have less money once your spouse’s income is no longer part of your household, and you also may end up paying bills that you didn’t have to before. Use a spreadsheet program to calculate your monthly income and bills. Don’t forget to include flexible expenditures, such as groceries and gas.
Check Your Credit Report: When was the last time you checked your credit report and score? Even though you may think you know what information is on your credit history, it’s important to be sure what your credit looks like. If you’re on the verge of a divorce, make sure you have some credit that is just in your name. Also, try not to rack up any new debt, since you’ll only have more to pay off once you are relying solely on your own income.
What About Your Job? As you prepare for the single life, think about your current income. Do you have a job? Does it pay enough? Do you work full or part time? Will you be able to take care of yourself once your spouse is out of the picture? This may be a good time to polish up your resume and get a job that will keep you more financially solvent.
Think About Housing: Among the many decisions you will have to make during a divorce, one of them is deciding what to do with the house. Will you stay in the marital home, or will you look for a new place? Factors to consider include whether or not you can afford your current house, where it is located in relation to your workplace, and if there are any familial ties to the home for either you or your spouse.
Are You Covered? You may not think about your life and health insurance on a daily basis, but it is extremely critical to know the details now. Does your coverage come from your spouse’s employer? If so, you may need to look into getting group coverage through your own employer or purchasing it privately.
It may seem like a lot to think about, but being prepared for your post-divorce future is very important. You need to know that you’ll be able to support yourself and pay your bills. Thinking about such things now will give you more time to prepare for what’s ahead and put yourself in a more financially stable situation.