Divorce can be a challenging and stressful process. However, if you are preparing for divorce, there are some actions you can take to help get yourself organized. Getting organized early can help make some parts of the process easier, ease some of the stress later on and can even help improve the outcome in some instances.
Know what you have
The first step to take when getting organized for divorce is to make a list of assets, liabilities and accounts. If you have not been involved in your family’s finances, this may involve getting familiar with the items you have. If you already know what makes up your family’s finances, this list can help ensure all items are accounted for.
Then, you should list and gather all documents related to your family’s assets, liabilities and accounts. These documents may include:
- Account statements
- Balance sheets
- Real estate deeds
- Loan documents
- Credit card statements
It is important to note that some of the documents you should gather are not necessarily financial documents. You should also gather all estate planning documents and insurance policies.
Group similar items together
Once you have gathered all the needed items you should establish an organizational system. Generally, you will want to group similar items together. This could mean all your items related to your house get grouped together, all estate planning documents get grouped together, and so on. However, the way you group documents must make sense to you, so that you can find documents quickly as they are needed.
Determine what is marital property
Finally, once you have located all of your assets and liabilities, it can be helpful to classify each one. In your divorce, all marital property will be divided, but nonmarital property will not be divided. To help you prepare for this, it can be valuable to list what items you think qualify as marital and separate property.
Marital property generally includes assets and liabilities that came about during the marriage. It does not usually matter if the assets were acquired by one spouse or by both. Funds that accrued during the marriage and gifts from one spouse to another are other examples of marital property.
Nonmarital property generally includes assets and liabilities acquired by either spouse before the marriage. Items you alone were gifted by other people would count as nonmarital assets. Also, any income derived from a nonmarital asset during the marriage, still counts as a nonmarital asset.
Divorce can present challenges and cause stress. However, being organized from the start can help prevent some possible challenges and eliminate some potential stress, leaving you better prepared to handle any challenges that cannot be avoided.