If there’s one thing everybody knows about divorce, it’s that they can cost a lot of money—between legal fees, court fees, and the apportionment of assets, the process of separating from a partner entails real financial changes in your life. Here’s how to begin preparing for it.
- Find Your Financial Records
Financial records—tax returns, bank statements, employment information, etc—are the story of your marriages’ financial health. It’s important to have this information ready going into a divorce so that you have a good sense of assets and liabilities—i.e money, property, or debts acquired during the marriage. Getting this information can take a long time, so start early.
- Track And Anticipate Expenses
Legal and accounting fees are likely to be a big part of your financial life until the divorce is complete, so start budgeting for them now. You can do that by tracking your current expenses carefully, making sure to save more than you spend, and budgeting for future expenditures as the divorce proceeds.This is a time to be as frugal as you can—and you should accept that your standard of living is likely to change, even if you won’t necessarily be starting from scratch.
- Create Separate Income Streams
Part of the process of separation is disentangling yourself from your partner, especially if you maintain joint finances. You can take steps like setting up a new, private PO Box at your post office, and it’s wise to open new checking and saving accounts at different institutions—once you’ve done so, you can update your direct deposit information to ensure that your paycheck isn’t deposited into any joint account. Remember—you’ll have to disclose income to the court regardless of where it’s deposited.What you should not do is draw from the communal accounts—emptying that pot, or even dipping into it more than usual, in the weeks and months before your divorce could be detrimental.
- Refrain from Big Financial Decisions
The divorce or custody proceedings will lay out a series of major financial changes, for better or worse. So while you might want to get cracking on adjusting life insurance beneficiaries, wills, retirements and such, these are actually part of the legal proceedings, and making any changes without the court’s blessing might lead to criminal contempt charges. Tread carefully, and ask your lawyer before you make a move.
- If Possible…Work Together
One of the most effective ways to protect your finances during divorce is to—where possible—keep your head, and stay civil. If you and your partner can cooperate in disentangling your finances, your divorce will proceed quicker and more smoothly, meaning it will cost less, meaning you’ll both be better off.
When In Doubt, Talk To A Lawyer
Family law lawyers—like those at Sandoval—stand ready to help you through the process of uncoupling your finances from your partner. If you need guidance on how best to do so, and what the court will and won’t permit, call one of our specialists for a consultation.
At Sandoval Law Firm we understand the stress of dealing with divorce, child custody and domestic violence. Our firm consists of founding attorney Raul Sandoval Jr. and a dedicated support staff. Mr. Sandoval earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Since that time, he has been practicing family law in the Austin area, as well as teaching seminars, classes and other forms of professional development.