In all legal matters, the better you prepare, the better your outcome is likely to be. Divorce is no exception.
Once you have decided your marriage is over, you will probably be tempted to file divorce papers immediately. Doing that might feel satisfying, but it can hurt you in the long run — especially financially. Here are five things to take care of before you file for divorce.
- Know your financial picture. Take an inventory of all your marital assets, which can include your home, retirement portfolios and other valuable assets. In Minnesota, marital assets generally include everything you and your spouse acquired during the marriage. State divorce law requires marital assets to be divided equitably between the spouses. Also list your nonmarital assets (things belonging to you alone) and marital debts.
- Protect yourself from joint account raiding. Many married couples living in Rochester have joint checking, savings and other financial accounts. Joint accounts can be convenient, but can leave you vulnerable to a vengeful spouse trying to clean you out. One way to protect yourself is to open up a new account in your name and transferring half the funds from the joint account. Keep track of all your spending from the new account to show your ex during property division settlement negotiations.
- Close joint credit cards. Similarly, you do not want to be jointly responsible for credit card charges your ex makes before your divorce is final. If the account has a balance you cannot pay off, try to negotiate a settlement with the credit card company or have the account frozen.
- Make a budget. Once you know roughly what your household finances will look like, you can make a budget. Among other things, this can help you plan for what kind of housing you will be able to afford.
Finally, you can take this time to find the right divorce attorney. A divorce lawyer who can give you honest advice and strong representation, and has a personality you can work well with, is one who will give you a greater chance of a faster and smoother divorce.