First, get organized
• Run a copy of your credit report
It is essential to understand the debit and liabilities that will need to be divided or paid off through the divorce process. It is also important to make sure you are aware of all debit that stands in your name. You can easily get a copy of your credit report for free off of the internet.
• Change all passwords:
To ensure that you protect your privacy before and throughout the divorce change EVERYONE of your PASSWORDS to something that your spouse would not be able to guess.
• Open a separate checking account:
It is important to separate your joint account. You can withdraw ½ of the funds in the joint account and use those funds to open a separate personal account at another financial institution.
• Start gathering your financial documents:
Massachusetts and New Hampshire Courts both have rules requiring the mandatory disclosures of certain financial documentation including the following:
o Bank statements (last 3 years)
o Loan documents
o Income tax returns (last 3 years)
o Paycheck stubs (last 4 pay periods)
o Investment account statements (Mutual funds, IRAs, stock certificates, etc)
o Retirement & pension account statements
o Credit Card Statements
• Make a budget
Begin calculating the anticipated cost of living post-divorce and determine what amount of money you will need to live on your own. You should plan for emergency and extra expenses now. These include filing fees, attorney fees, housing expenses (more on that below), health insurance you may have to purchase, etc.
• Stay tough & choose your lawyer carefully
The divorce process can be stressful, emotional, and all long process. Many spouses end up making unnecessary concessions just to speed things along, but don’t give in. A decision might seem like a good shortcut at the time, but it could end up costing you a lot of money over the next several years.
Make sure you have a caring and experienced divorce attorney who has your best interests at heart, and will fight to protect your family and financial assets.