Too many people find themselves inadequately prepared when they decide, or their spouse decides to file for divorce . If you suspect that a divorce is in your future, it is important to take certain steps to protect yourself and your financial future, including the following:
- Know your assets, liabilities and monthly living expenses. Many people have no idea of their monthly living expenses, debts or assets. While the reasons vary from household to household, many never see their spouse’s paycheck, their income tax return even though they may sign it, or know the status of the household debt that has accrued. Be proactive. Search for records and know the financial condition of your family.
- Consult with and retain an attorney. An experienced Illinois divorce attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Elliot Heidelberger, can advise you of your legal rights and any potential complications prior to the divorce proceedings so that you are adequately prepared.
- Have adequate cash on hand. All too often a spouse will go into a divorce without enough cash on hand to cover legal expenses, court fees, new housing, and therapist bills. If divorce seems to be on the horizon, it is highly recommended that you start saving as much cash as possible, as soon as possible, in order to cover these unexpected expenses.
- Become aware of complete financial situation. Prior to divorce, it is incredibly important to understand the financial landscape of your family. You will want to determine all of your outstanding debts, including all individual debts, as well as all joint debts. You will want to know and understand the complete financial picture of your family, which includes knowing all credit card accounts, home equity lines, student loans, and any business debts.
- Retain adequate financial records. You will want to retain and maintain easy access to all pertinent financial documents, such as credit card statements, mortgage bills, mortgage agreements, insurance policies, previous tax returns, wills, retirement plan accounts, and paystubs.
- Establish accounts in your own name. Once it becomes clear that divorce is imminent, you should take proactive measures to establish financial accounts in your name alone, including checking accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, and retirement accounts. You may also want to take steps necessary to secure individual car insurance.
- Adjust automatic deposits and payments. You will want to request that your employer re-route all of your payments into your individual accounts since joint accounts are generally considered to be part of the marital estate.
- Ensure that housing payments will be met. If you have purchased a home with your spouse or you are both on the lease, you must determine who will continue making the mortgage or rent payments. Creditors, including mortgagors and landlords, expect to receive their payments regardless of your marital status or whether you are still living in the home. Even if you plan to move out, you are still responsible for at least half of the mortgage or rent payments so it is advisable to come to some agreement early on regarding who will continue making the housing payments.
If you suspect that divorce may in the future, it is crucial that you take proactive steps to protect your financial future. Chicago divorce attorney Elliot Heidelberger can help advise you about the financial preparations to take before, during, and after your divorce proceedings so that you can emerge from divorce in the best financial situation possible. Contact his office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about financial preparations for divorce.