In most marriages, there is one spouse that handles the family finances, and the other spouse typically is in the dark about the family’s financial picture.This poses a problem in the event that the parties decide that their marriage is not working, and they want to get divorced. 
 

If you are even thinking about the possibility of getting a divorce, there are several things you can do to make your life easier when it comes time to file for divorce.  As soon as possible, you should begin gathering information on your spouse’s income, your income, monthly expenses, all of your accounts, pensions, employment benefits, and insurance.
 

In every case, you should begin collecting the following documents as early as possible: 

  • Both you and your spouse’s most recent Social Security Earnings Statement.
  • At least three years of both parties’ personal tax returns, W-2s, 1099s, and K-1s.
  • At least one year of bank statements for any and all bank accounts.
  • At least one year of statements for any and all brokerage accounts.
  • At least one year of credit card statements for all credit cards in either you or   your spouse’s name.
  • The most recent mortgage bill showing the current amount owed on any residence.
  • A Market Analysis on any property that may be listed for sale.
  • Recent statements for any and all employments benefits for you and your spouse, including but not limited to year end pension statements, 401(k) plans, stock options, or deferred compensation.
  • Copies of any life insurance policies and information on any other insurance policy, including policy numbers, coverage limits for health, auto and homeowner’s insurance policies. 

This information will assist you and your attorney in identifying any potential issues in formulating your strategy on your case. 
 

In most cases, especially when it was not your decision to divorce for one spouse had an affair, extreme emotions, such as anger, sadness, resentment, and disappointment necessarily accompany the divorce process.  If you are not already attending therapy, beginning therapy simultaneously with the divorce process can greatly assist you during this difficult time.  In addition, dealing with your emotions in therapy sessions, rather than at attorney meetings, will help you minimize your legal fees in the long run.
 

These are just two of the ways that you can prepare yourself to deal with issues in your divorce case.  Once you have a clear picture of your finances and have dealt with any emotions you may have about the prospect of obtaining a divorce, you will then be better prepared than most people to file for divorce.

Corrine Cooke is a member of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group in the Lawrenceville, New Jersey office. For questions, please contact Ms. Cooke.