When a couple marries, it is very common for one partner to assume most of the responsibility for handling the household finances. This arrangement can be convenient when things are going well; but when a divorce is imminent, it can leave one spouse wondering how they will ever get a fair share of the assets if they don’t know what those assets are.
Divorce is often one of the most stressful experiences of a person’s life. Confusion, anxiety, and fear for the future are all very common feelings during a divorce. But with proper preparation, support and expert guidance, divorce does not need to be entirely devastating. Our experienced divorce lawyers in Somerset have listed some important measures that you can take now to help your divorce go more smoothly while setting yourself up for financial independence.
The best way to protect yourself if you are in this situation is to start gathering financial documents as early as possible. Make copies and store them outside of your home, preferably in a safety deposit box or with your divorce lawyer if you have one. It is possible to get this information at a later date through subpoena, but it is far less costly and stressful to gather them yourself while you are able to do so.
Important documents include: bank statements; credit card statements; investment and retirement account statements; any loan applications made within the past five years; life insurance policies; wills and trust agreements; information regarding residential properties including mortgage statements, utility and property tax bills; and the past three to five years of income tax returns. If either of you are part owner of a business, be sure to collect all financial information pertaining to that as well. Finally, make a list of any potentially valuable belongings and take photographs. Make note of whether the item was owned by either of you before you were married, or was attained by purchase or gift during the marriage.
After you have collected as many financial documents as possible, it is important to understand them. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the information they provide. If you have questions about a particular investment statement or other document, seek the assistance of a trusted financial planner or tax professional who will explain the information to you.
Also, monitor financial statements closely. Check for any big changes or purchases that your spouse may be making without your consent. It is not uncommon for one spouse to try to hide assets by closing accounts or transferring funds. The earlier you familiarize yourself with the finances, the better you will be able to protect yourself.
Preparing for your divorce is not the time to take an ignorance-is-bliss approach when it comes to your credit. A good credit score can be the foundation of a successful financial future, so it is critical to know what is on your report. Request a copy of your credit history and correct any misinformation it may contain. If your credit is less than stellar, talk to a financial planner with experience handling divorce cases about what you can do to make it better.
Set up both a checking and a savings account at a bank different from the one that holds your joint accounts. You will need to accumulate some funds in these accounts to use for necessities, such as daily living expenses and hiring professionals to help you navigate the details of your divorce. Talk to your divorce lawyer before making any dramatic changes like redirecting direct deposits or transferring large sums of money.
Divorce can be an extremely complicated process that can be very difficult to manage without the right help. Even if you follow all of the aforementioned advice, there is still a chance that something could be missed that could cost you down the line. By hiring a divorce lawyer skilled in financial planning and familiar with the specific divorce processes in New Jersey, you can avoid mistakes and rest assured that your rights will be protected.
When preparing for a divorce in New Jersey, it is essential to choose a divorce lawyer you can trust to set you up for a secure financial future. Our Somerset divorce lawyers are dedicated to helping you overcome the challenges of your divorce and determine the path that works best for you and your children. To schedule an initial consultation with the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC, call 732-873-6464 or contact us online.
We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Middlesex County, Union County and including but not limited to the towns of Somerset, Franklin, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Plainfield, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Cranford, Summit, Union, Clark, Elizabeth, Berkeley Heights, and Scotch Plains.