Planning for a divorce is a difficult task due to the psychological and financial complexities. There are items you can consider preemptively to enter into the divorce process more prepared. The checklist below should provide you with various things to think about prior to planning for a divorce.
Collect copies of important documents such as:
- Income tax returns (3-5 years)
- Employment records
- Bank statements and loan information
- Investment account statements
- Pension plan information and statements
- Retirement account statements
- Custodial/529 Plan/children’s bank account statements
- Debt records and any outstanding bills
- Wills and trust agreements
- Social Security statements
- Life insurance information
- Renter’s or homeowners insurance declaration pages
- Auto insurance declaration pages
- Health insurance policies
- Real estate deeds and information
- Vehicle titles and related documentation
- Inventory of personal property
- Safe deposit box information and inventory
- Birth certificates for you and any children
- Social Security cards for you and any children
- Passports for you and any children
- Marriage certificate
- Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements
- Judgments and pleadings involving either spouse
- Prior marriage information
After consulting an attorney, consider whether it makes sense to close joint checking and savings accounts, place half of the community property funds into an escrow account, payoff joint loans, and close joint credit cards. You should also consider therapy or a support group for yourself and/or children.
Have a plan for how to approach the subject of divorce with your spouse and with children. Consider alternative living arrangements and have a plan for your children’s living and education situation during this transition. It may be helpful to create a divorce budget and to consider mediators in addition to retaining attorneys.
After the divorce is final, be sure to update your will and/or trust, re-title assets, update beneficiaries on retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and consider continuing therapy or a support group for yourself and children.
A divorce cannot always be anticipated and planned for. We understand that this checklist only covers some of the various things you and your spouse should consider. Consult an attorney to receive specific advice as it relates to your unique situation. During this challenging transition, it can be helpful to surround yourself with trusted advisors such as your CPA and financial planner, in addition to your attorney.