Divorce involves many facets and decisions that need to be made. But if you don’t have children, chances are good that the majority of your divorce will be focused on asset and debt division. Separating the financial entanglements of a married couple is typically not an easy task. It involves a full accounting of assets and dets, accurate valuation of high-ticket possessions and a property settlement that is deemed equitable by a judge (under Ohio law, courts are required to divide marital assets equitably, which isn’t always the same thing as equally in half).
As you can imagine, the property division process takes time and work. But there are some things you can do to help even before divorce papers have been filed. Below are some financial preparations you can make when getting ready to divorce.
Separate your accounts and track your credit
If you know divorce is coming, it may be a wise idea to close joint checking/savings/credit accounts and open new ones in your name only. This not only establishes some financial independence for each of you, it also reduces the opportunity for “revenge spending” or other financial mismanagement by your spouse. It is, unfortunately, somewhat common for one spouse to make extravagant purchases to either spite the other spouse or reduce the assets that will later be divided.
If you’re worried about spending sprees or similar problems, you should also be carefully watching your credit reports. When you have joint accounts and other entanglements, your spouse’s financial activities could have a negative impact on your credit score.
Create your own budget and track your spending
In many marriages, one spouse is often the “money person” while the other plays only a small role in budgeting and bill paying. No matter what your previous role was, you’ll be taking on all financial responsibilities for yourself from now on. Therefore, you need create a budget based on your income and expenses and then track your spending judiciously to meet that budget. This will make it much easier to transition to single life after the divorce has been finalized.
Find the right attorney for you
Choosing an attorney isn’t like hiring a mechanic or a plumber. It’s more like finding a doctor. In addition to finding someone who is legally knowledgeable and experienced, you also need your attorney to be a good fit for your personality. This is someone you’ll need to trust and rely upon to advocate for your best interests. Therefore, the relationship needs to be a comfortable one.
It is also worth noting that hiring a family law attorney early in the process is one of the best ways to get started. Once retained, your lawyer can walk you through next steps and ensure that you are doing everything you can to maximize your chances of success and to keep the process moving smoothly.
There is a lot to do when divorce is on the horizon. But if you start by following these tips, you can feel confident you are moving in the right direction.