Pre-Divorce Planning by Diane Pearson


It may sound deceiving, but it can be very beneficial to find out as much as possible about the marital assets before the divorce papers are served.  It is easier and ultimately more accurate, to gather evidence about financial assets before the other spouse has begun to think about issues such as hiding and protecting assets.

The plan involves a thorough asset search.  Working with a Certified Divorce Analyst, and a divorce attorney can help you through the process.  A report should be prepared listing real estate, business interests, and bank and brokerage account numbers with current balances and transactions.  These assets can then be identified and frozen at the time the divorce papers are filed.  Once the divorce case is filed, money and property often begin to “disappear” or “move.”  Once this happens, locating assets can become a more time-consuming, messy and expensive task.

You should perform a thorough asset search and photocopy important documents including tax returns.  If you have access to all of the income tax returns during the marriage, assets that may be “hidden” may be identified.  It’s not exactly clear when this “planning” is supposed to start.  But if conversations regarding ending the marriage have started, the “planning” process should begin.  During marriage, staying informed means acquiring regularly updated asset reports and an analysis of phone records and credit card purchases.

Making an inventory of your financial situation will help you to prepare in two ways:  It will provide you with preliminary information for an eventual division of the property.  And it will help you to plan how the debts incurred in the marriage are to be paid off.

Joint Debt:

The best way of dealing with joint debt, like a line of credit, is to get it all paid off before the divorce.  Sometimes this is impossible.  Make sure that you are accounting for all of the debts and that they are included in the divorce decree.  Running a credit report for each spouse can help to uncover any outstanding debt.

Assets:

The laws governing division of property between ex-spouses vary from state to state. Further, matrimonial judges have a great deal of latitude in applying those laws.

Here is a list of items you should be sure to take care of, regardless of whether you are represented by an attorney:

The current balance in all bank accounts;

The value of any brokerage accounts;

The value of any investments, including IRAs

Your residence(s);

Your autos; and

Your valuable antiques, jewelry, luxury items, collections, and furnishings.

If you owned the property separately before the marriage, make sure you can prove that you still own it separately.

Expenses:

It is especially important to figure out how much it will cost you to live  after the divorce.  For the spouse   planning to remain in the family home with the children; it may be determined  that this is not a financially viable option, that the living expenses are  not manageable.If you are going  to need child support, create a cash flow analysis to account for all of your   expenses and a separate one for all of the children’s expenses.If you have been  out of the workforce or were never in the workforce, you may need obtain   additional training or an education.   Identify the cost associated with obtaining that education, you may   wish to negotiate having some or all of those costs included the divorce  decree.To estimate your  post-divorce living expenses, add together all of your monthly debts and   living expenses, including rent or mortgage payments.  Total you after-tax monthly income from all   sources.  The remaining amount is your  disposable income.
To estimate your post-divorce living expenses, add together all of  your monthly debts and living expenses, including rent or mortgage. Then  total your after-tax monthly income from all sources. The remaining amount is your disposable income.

 

Documentation:

1.  Tax Returns

2.  Insurance coverage’s

3.  Retirement Plans, including qualified and non-qualified

4.  Pension Plans

5.  Pay stubs