Perhaps you knew it was coming, or perhaps it hit you like a ton of bricks. Either way, when you’re asked for a divorce, most of us quickly become overwhelmed with unanswered questions. After all, these probably aren’t waters you’ve navigated before. And, no two situations are the same, so seeking advice from friends and family may not be the best option.
So where and how do you begin? We’ve outlined the most important steps to take first.
It’s crucial to create a clear financial picture of what’s been happening in your marriage. Going back three years, begin collecting your tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, pension plan statements, credit card history, etc. You’ll also want to collect your insurance and housing costs. We’ve created a complete checklist for you here.
This may seem overwhelming, and if so, consider consulting a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®. As experts, we can help you create a plan and easily make sense of each item that’s needed in order to move forward.
Having this list at the ready will help your attorney and any other professionals you choose to work with.
Take Inventory of Your Debts
You’ll want to have a documented list of what the recurring costs are in your marriage. Regardless if a debt is in your name or your spouse’s name, go ahead and obtain all the statements you can. Here are some examples of what to look for:
- Mortgages or Vehicle Liens
- Credit Cards or Lines of Credit with Outstanding Balances
- Personal or Student Loans
- Active Leases
- Tax Debt
Create a List of Assets
Beyond the statements and documents mentioned above, take stock of other valuable assets that you own. For example:
- Cash, Investment Accounts
- Retirement Accounts
- Collectibles, Jewelry
- Additional Homes or Property
You’ll also want to acquire any insurance documentation associated with these items. This will make for a more comprehensive overview of what’s at stake.
Research the Different Methods of Divorce
Set aside some time to determine which path you should take. This is a big decision, and we recommend consulting a professional before determining your next steps. That said, the information below will help you better understand some common options.
This is a scenario where the divorcing couple will work with a mediator to decide how assets and debts will be divided. This can also include spousal support and child custody. We go into more detail about mediation in this article.
Collaborative Divorce is another good option as this means both parties have agreed to settle financial matters without any litigation. Through the collaborative divorce process, both parties agree to open discussions similar to mediation however each party has an attorney present, and there is a financial neutral and a family therapist available to help both parties make informed decisions.
You can learn about Mediation vs Collaborative Divorce here.
If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, then you will need to let a third party decide for you such as an arbitrator, judge or magistrate. In this scenario, the courts will decide how assets and debts are awarded, how much support is to be paid, and how child custody will be handled.
Who Can Help Me?
First and foremost, you need to stay emotionally healthy and focused. If you’re experiencing overwhelming levels of stress, it can be immensely helpful to find a professional therapist to help you through this turbulent time.
Additionally, consult a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® to assist you with the important financial decisions you have to make during this process. Alternative Divorce Solutions is uniquely positioned to help you creatively solve the financial aspects of your divorce and help you feel confident about the decisions you are making. We know divorce is a difficult time, and we are available to focus on your specific situation. Call us at 877-471-4654 to learn more about how a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® can work with you to deliver the best possible outcome for your financial future.
If your divorce could be a candidate for the Collaborative process, find an expert who has received Family Law and Collaborative Divorce training to guide you through this process.
Finally, if you have any concerns about financial misconduct or feel unsafe in any way, consult an attorney immediately.