Whether you anticipate your divorce will be amicable or contentious, you should thoroughly evaluate your financial situation. Everyone’s monetary concerns are different; but, no matter your circumstance there are several important checklist items to keep in mind.
Gathering Financial Documents
Account statements, monthly bills, tax documents, credit card statements, 401(k) statements, and the like. You will likely need these documents for court required alternative dispute resolution. If you start gathering your financial documents now, it will be easier for you and your attorney down the road.
Understanding Your Needs
Using some of the financial documents you’ve gathered, get a grasp on your monthly needs and expenses. This will help you plan a budget moving forward and will also help you and your attorney understand what you may need in terms of child support and spousal support. If you are the supporting spouse, look at monthly expenses from the angle of the spouse you have been supporting—this will help give you and your attorney an idea of how much support you may need to pay.
Consulting with a Professional
If you have a simple estate with a small amount of assets, you may already have a full picture of your marital finances. If your estate is large with a variety of assets or you were not involved with the finances during your marriage, your attorney may be able to recommend a financial professional to assist you. Regardless of the size and complexity of your estate, it is a smart idea to consult with a financial professional, especially if you have a lot of questions.
Monitoring Your Credit
Regularly monitoring your credit is always a good idea. If your spouse stops paying for certain expenses your credit could be adversely impacted. If possible, talk to your spouse about how joint expenses will be divided.
Determining Your Filing Status
Another topic for discussion is your tax status. How will you file your taxes during the year(s) in which you are separated? Your attorney and accountant can assist you with this decision.
Securing Your Health Insurance Coverage
There will need to be a plan in place regarding health insurance coverage for you, your spouse and your children. While many employer-sponsored health plans permit a separated spouse to continue coverage during separation, most (if not all) plans prohibit maintaining such coverage upon divorce. Additionally, parents should discuss what coverage is available for their children after divorce and the cost of such coverage.
Updating Your Estate Plans
While it may be uncomfortable, this step can potentially save your family from costly litigation in the event of your untimely passing while your divorce process is still ongoing.
Regardless of the size of your estate, it is wise to speak with a family law attorney. The division of assets and debts can be a complex task in a divorce. The attorneys at Hatcher Law Group have considerable knowledge in this area of the law, and significant experience representing clients in family financial matters, including property and debt division. If you have questions about your family law matter, contact us to schedule a consultation.
Stephen A. Guardipee is a family law attorney with Hatcher Law Group. In addition to divorce and property distribution, he assists clients with child support, child custody and other domestic related issues.