No matter how hard a couple tries, sometimes a marriage ends in divorce. When it seems this is the path a relationship is going to take, it’s best to prepare in advance. Taking the time to prepare can make the divorce process simpler and reduce stress and conflict. The professionals from Divorce Options San Diego, the experts in divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for alternatives to contentious and costly divorce proceedings, offer the following advice about how to prepare for a divorce.
Gather Financial Information
One goal of divorce is to divide assets and debts equally, which means you must know where you stand financially before proceeding. First, determine what you and your spouse own, including bank accounts, property, vehicles, personal businesses, pension plans, stocks and bonds, inheritances, artwork, and other belongings. Gather any paperwork related to these items, such as account numbers, titles, and deeds, and determine if the items were bought with joint or separate bank accounts. Next, look at what you owe, which may include mortgages, credit cards, and other loans. Again, gather account information related to debts. The best way to get a clear picture of debt is to obtain a credit report for you and your spouse.
Determine Your Income
Marital debt is typically split by who is better able to financially resolve the debt, which means you’ll need a clear picture of your income as well as your spouse’s. Determining each partner’s income can be more difficult if a business is owned and income fluctuates. Paycheck stubs, financial business statements, and bank account statements can give you a better picture of overall income. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have at least the past three years of tax returns.
Make a Budget
With only one income, your post-divorce budget will look vastly different than your budget when you were married. Set a budget now to prevent financial pitfalls in your future. Make a list of your bills. Include mortgage or rent, utilities, communication, vehicle expenses, gas, food, and entertainment. Next, determine if your current income will cover the cost of these bills. If it doesn’t, you may need to look at supplementing your income or cutting back on expenses.
If most of your mortgages, property, and credit cards were under your spouse’s name, you may need to establish credit for yourself to make future purchases. Obtain a credit card with a modest credit limit and pay it in full each month to build your credit.
Consider Your Insurance Coverage
You should work with your spouse to make sure all your insurance policies—for the house, other property, your children, and each other—are in order. If you were previously covered under your spouse’s medical insurance, you’re going to have to acquire your own. Talk with your employer or an insurance agent to purchase insurance coverage. If you’re going to have a gap in your insurance coverage and need any medical procedures or dental work done, it may be a good idea to take care of those now while you still have coverage.
One spouse cannot remove the other from his or her insurance during the divorce proceedings. After the divorce is final, the payee spouse cannot be on the policy of the working spouse who has that policy. However, under certain circumstances, a court order can be obtained that mandates continued coverage for the payee spouse. In that case, there must also be a review of whether the working spouse must claim the payee spouse as a dependent for tax purposes.
Don’t Make a Move
While going through a divorce, it may be tempting to move out of the house. Unless a spouse is abusive, most experts recommend staying put. Moving during a divorce may affect your interest in the property and could affect where your children go to school.
Divorce is never easy, so knowing how to prepare for it can help a great deal as you go through the process. Another great way to approach divorce is to work with experienced divorce mediators. San Diego couples get tremendous benefits from the expertise of the team at Divorce Options San Diego. With backgrounds in law, finance, conflict resolution, and psychology, we work closely with couples, helping them end their marriages with respect and mutual satisfaction so they can move on to the next stages of their lives. To learn more about our groundbreaking divorce mediation process, give us a call today at (858) 281-2628.