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Be prepared; scout out paperwork and finance before divorce

However hard one tries, it is impossible to anticipate every event that may affect one's life. There are certain steps, however, that California residents can take that make good sense in any event. In particular, getting a routine handle on day-to-day finances can be of more help than one might realize, especially if divorce rears its head.

Regardless of how stable a marriage is, it is not unusual for spouses to maintain personal bank accounts and credit cards. Due to life's unpredictability, having access to one's own money or line of credit can be a reassuring safety blanket. Having some money set aside for emergencies can be sensible, but if one is planning a divorce, then one will need to consider how much more might be needed to pay legal fees. Also, using credit cards to make the occasional purchase, then paying the bill on time, can also help to establish one's credit score.

Keeping paperwork in order will make it much easier to assemble all the relevant information quickly. Tax returns dating back three years, and bank statements for checking and savings accounts dating back at least one year, are standard requirements. Statements for credit cards and any brokerage deals, deeds and titles for vehicles or realty, and any insurance policy documents, will also be important.

California residents keep track of any debts that are accruing by checking on their credit scores regularly. This may also assist in dividing them into joint and personal debt. Keeping an eye on the mail arriving to the marital home may not only show the financial items about which one knows -- this can also give one clues to items that may not be so obvious, or that may be hidden completely. If the finances and other assets are very complicated, one's divorce team may decide to engage the services of a forensic accountant. The appropriate advice will help to move things forward more smoothly.

Source:, "Avoid common mistakes before divorce", Sam Hubbard, May 19, 2017

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