If you head into divorce financially unprepared, you could put the health of your present and future finances in jeopardy. While you might not have time make a dent in your debt or find a better paying job, you can take these ten steps to financially prepare for your divorce.
First and foremost, you should learn about your finances. In many marriages, one spouse handles all the financials. If you were the spouse who didn’t manage the accounts, take some time to familiarize yourself with any and all bank accounts, investments, business interests, insurance policies, retirement savings, lines of credit, loans and other forms of debts. The more you know, the better idea you’ll have of what you have to work with. Do not wait until it’s too late to learn about your assets.
While you’re learning about your household finances, get copies of insurance policies, bank and credit card statements, investment and retirement account portfolios, deeds, mortgages, loan paperwork and tax returns. Your attorney will need these as will the court. If you don’t acquire copies of these documents now, you may have to go through the lengthy process of having the court order your spouse to produce them, which will cost you time and money.
Now that you have a better understanding of your finances and the documents you need for your divorce, assess your current expenses and talk to your attorney about how to ensure you can meet them each month. Don’t assume you will settle soon. Anticipate some time between filing your divorce and the finalization and realize you may need financial support during this time. It’s important to continue to meet all your financial obligations, so your credit score isn’t affected. A New Jersey divorce attorney can file a pendente lite motion to obtain temporary financial support.
You will also have to assess what your future expenses after the divorce might be. Will you be moving? Taking on new expenses? Making more or less money? Going back to school? Before you even think about alimony (i.e. spousal support), you need to know how much you need or can afford to pay.
You may also need child support during your marriage if your spouse is being uncooperative with paying bills. Furthermore, you can use your spouse’s refusal to provide financial support for your child as a bargaining chip for custody.
What will you need to become financially secure after your divorce? In most cases, alimony isn’t permanent, and it can be affected if your spouse loses his or her job or retires. Figure out what you need to do to support yourself and start making plans.
Always keep an eye on your debt during a divorce. Spouses who fail to do so can emerge from the divorce with damaged credit scores and maxed out lines of credit. Make sure your credit cards; loans, and other debts are paid on time each month. Make sure your attorney includes a financial restraining order in your divorce filing so you and your spouse will be prohibited from taking out lines of credit or making any big purchases. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on credit cards to pay your attorneys fees. If you do, talk to your attorney about what you need to do to ask your spouse to pay for them.
Spouses who are the primary breadwinners sometimes hide assets in an attempt to limit the pool of marital assets that must be divided. Work with an attorney and potentially an investigative accountant to make sure you’ve accounted for all your assets and income streams. This is a crucial step before you agree to a settlement proposal or your case goes to trial.
Once you know what you have, what you need now, and what you’ll need in the future, ask for it. Having a good idea of what you want and need from the start will make future negotiations easier.
Now you are at the stage where your preparation has paid off. You are now ready to negotiate or present your argument to the court. Work with a New Jersey divorce attorney to ensure your divorce judgment is fair and will provide for your financial needs.
If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC can help you protect your rights and obtain a fair outcome for your divorce. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.