No matter how much couples try, some marriages are just beyond repair. Recently, the divorce rate in the U.S. has been declining. But it is still best for couples and would-be couples to be prepared for the worst situation to think of the proper course of action when it comes. Divorce may turn into a bitter war when not mitigated properly. It may cause an irreparable rift between two people who used to be madly in love with each other.
Needless to say, ex-couples who are in constant war create trauma among kids who may suffer its effect in their whole lives. Unsettled issues may also affect members of the extended family, spreading toxicity all around.
A poll once declared that a lack of commitment from one or both parties in a marriage is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S. Many marriages might also have ended because of infidelity and extramarital affairs, non-stop conflicts and arguments, immaturity during the union, and financial problems.
If you are in a divorce process, here are important financial moves to make the division of financial resources easier for you and your ex-spouse:
Gather important papers as early as you can
Financial management in an amicable settlement may be easier when both parties cooperate in gathering important papers that will speak for their finances in the marriage. Here’s a more comprehensive checklist for your guidance:
- Paycheck stubs from all sources of employment in the previous year
- Your spouse’s paycheck stubs from the same time frame as yours
- Documentation of business expenses if one is self-employed
- Copies of joint or individual tax returns
- Copies of check ledgers showing the expenses incurred during the marriage
- A copy of any financial statements or statements of net worth needed when one of the spouses want to secure a loan
- Any documents that will support your net worth
Along with documents related to your finances, also secure those that prove your real estate properties. Your lawyers may need this in the case of making an estate plan so that the properties are divided fairly and evenly.
- Any documents showing the legal description of any real estate property, either conjugal or individual. These can be obtained from your mortgage company or bank.
- Show your current mortgage statements if you have any mortgages.
- All documents signifying purchases of real estate
- In the case of a refinanced estate, one should also secure documents proving it.
- A document showing a tax assessor’s statement(s) related to any real estate property
Come up with a list of debts and assets
Incurring debt is something normal in most marriages. Couples may need the money for purchasing a family home, buying a new car, or vacations. One must secure proof for these debts before proceeding to the formal divorce procedure. These accumulated debts will then be classified as to whether they are incurred for the sake of the family or something to gratify an individual need.
Meanwhile, couples should keep track of their joint and separate assets as documented in shared bank accounts, marital homes, insurance policies, among others.
Invest in a financial advisor
These days, some ex-spouses skipped hiring a divorce lawyer to represent themselves in court. Instead, both of them may hire a financial advisor specializing in divorce. The advisor has the right training and knowledge to organize the ex-spouse’s finances. Furthermore, the expert can help the couple establish new credit, deal with problems related to shared bank accounts, and agree on a post-divorce settlement even with little money.
Settle for a fair agreement
The agreement may come before or after the ex-couple files for a divorce—the sooner, the better. Couples should try hard to compromise to reach a fair agreement regarding custody, spousal support, settlement of shared debts, decisions on whether to sell the family home or not, among others. If unnecessary turmoil comes up, the parties should hire a mediator to help them make educated, fair, and wise decisions.
Get the agreement written legally
It’s highly recommended that the amicable split agreement be put into writing and signed in front of a lawyer. You may also need two witnesses of the amicable split who should also affix their signatures on the document.
Ideally, the lawyer will prepare the document in advance. In the proceedings, be aware and knowledgeable of technical phrases such as “relinquish and waive all future claims,” “timely indemnify and hold harmless,” and “exclusive possession.” When in doubt, let your lawyer explain the statement in layman’s terms. Making clarifications will protect your interests and further let you know of important rights.
A divorce, even if it is done amicably, is painful. You will now go on separate lives after years of togetherness. But it would help if you took the matter objectively and instead look forward to the new life that awaits you. Try hard to make the proceedings easy to save money, spare your kids from trouble, and end the relationship peacefully. Consider hiring a lawyer who can assist you in coming up with a fair split of finances, properties, and other rights.