Financial Checklist in Divorce

If you have made the decision to file for a divorce, there are a few things you should do to prepare prior to filing. Below is a checklist to help you in this preparation process:

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report. This is very easy to do by visiting the following website: www.annualcreditreport.com This is the only authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law. You can get a free report from each of the three national credit reporting companies every 12 months. It is important to understand where you stand with your credit prior to filing for a divorce.

  • Obtain a credit card in your own name. Once your divorce is final, it may be more difficult to obtain a credit card in your name only if you don’t already have one. This will help you establish credit individually.

  • Open a bank account in your own name. If all of your bank accounts are jointly held with your spouse, you should open a bank account in your name only.

  • Gather your documents. Obtain a copy of all of your financial records to include: bank account statements, brokerage account statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, loan statements, mortgage account statements, etc. It is very important to fully understand your financial status when filing for a divorce. Keep these copies outside of your house, perhaps with a friend or family member.

  • Income Tax Returns. Make a copy of your Income Tax Returns. You should copy at least the last three years tax returns including all of the documents that were used to prepare the returns.

  • Write out your current budget. Understand where you stand and what it is currently costing you to live as a married couple.

  • Photograph your possessions. Go through your house and photograph each room and all of your possessions. If a dispute arises regarding the existence or location of any items, this will help you to prove that it was in the house and where.

  • Separate Property. If you have property you owned prior to the marriage, or received as a gift or through inheritance during the marriage it is very important to have all of the necessary documentation to be able to prove your separate property is actually yours. You will need to gather all of your statements from the date of marriage (or date of receipt in the case of a gift or inheritance) to present in order to prove your claim. If you don’t have the statements or didn’t keep them you will need to obtain them. If your property is real estate, you will need to have your closing documents from the purchase. Your attorney will be able to discuss this with you further.

  • Paystubs. If you don’t keep your paystubs, you need to start. Obtain copies of the most recent paystubs for your spouse as well.

  • The Family Business. If you or your spouse own a business, either individually or jointly, you need to gather information for that business as well. Be sure to obtain copies of bank statements, income tax returns and financial statements for your business. If the business uses a software program, such as QuickBooks, be sure to save a backup copy and keep it in a place that will be readily accessible.

  • Find a Financial Professional to help you. Having the help and advice of a financial professional that understands the divorce laws in Texas can be invaluable during your divorce. This person will be able to help you understand your current financial situation and can help you understand the short and long term financial impact of any proposed division of marital assets.

Cheryl Isbell, CFE
Certified Fraud Examiner
Litigation Support/Financial Expert Witness
Lewisville, Texas
cherylisbell@me.com
972-333-0669 (O)
469-327-2879 (F)

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