During your marriage, your spouse may have taken care of most of the financial matters.
Preparing for the property division phase of your divorce is a good time to learn all you can about your financial circumstances and put that knowledge to good use in the next stage of your life.
Dividing marital property
The more assets you have, the more complex the property division phase of your divorce will be. Preparation includes gathering financial information such as bank account and credit card statements, retirement account statements, mortgage and car loan documents. Provide copies to your attorney along with a list of assets and debts. You should mark these as either marital or separate property—meaning belonging to you alone—and each must carry a value. Give one set of documents to your attorney and keep copies for yourself.
You and your soon-to-be-ex may want to open separate bank accounts prior to the divorce proceedings. If there are joint accounts you wish to maintain for the time being, you should have a written agreement explaining the use for those funds. It is a good idea to require two signatures on checks written from joint accounts.
The task of compiling financial information ahead of your divorce will give you a better understanding of your current circumstances. You are about to enter the post-divorce era where your lifestyle will undergo changes. You may have to downsize. You will have to develop a budget based on new needs and one income stream rather than two. Developing a good understanding of your current financial picture will prepare you not only for property division but also for the next chapter in your life.