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What to do before filing for divorce

If you are thinking about filing for divorce or you believe that a divorce may be in your future, you are probably feeling anxious and maybe a little scared about what to expect.

The good news is that you can start taking steps now to prepare yourself for the divorce and increase the chances of coming out of the marriage with a favorable settlement.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported several steps to take before filing for divorce, and we are going to highlight one of the most important steps here.

The step has to do with gathering and making copies of important financial documents. However, there’s a lot more to this step than just milling through paperwork and making a trip to the copy machine.

True, it’s easier to find and make copies of financial documents now than wait to ask your spouse for them after the divorce has been filed. But this step is also important because the process will help you to better-understand your financial situation.

If you were not the spouse who handled the finances, you might be in the dark when it comes to understanding your marital assets and debt. Bank statements, retirement-benefit information and any other financial documents you can find are a great place to start.

Additionally, you will want to make a list of all valuables that you and your spouse possess, including jewelry, collectables, art and heirlooms. As a financial planner from Virginia told the Wall Street Journal, the more information you can collect on your assets, debts and sources of income, the better.

Finally, you will also want to start keeping track of your expenses so that you know how much income you will need post divorce and you have data to back up your cost-of-living testimony. This means keeping track of how much you spend on food, utilities, gas and other incidentals on a monthly basis.

If you go into your first meeting with your divorce lawyer carrying this information, you will not only make the lawyer very happy, you will also save time and money by allowing the lawyer to jump right in to advocating on your behalf.