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Taking stock of finances when planning for divorce

A husband's or wife's decision to file for divorce is often preceded by months or years of contemplating the matter. Therefore, when a husband or wife finally decides to walk away from an unhappy marriage he or she may be tempted to immediately inform a spouse of that decision. However, many divorce and financial experts advise that it's often best to wait until certain financial matters have been sorted out.

Not only does divorce bring personal freedom, it also brings financial freedom and independence. While the thought of spending one's money freely and not having to answer to a nagging spouse may seem appealing, divorcing individuals must still budget and pay for housing and other necessities that were previously afforded on two salaries. It's important, therefore, to take stock of one's current expenses and financial situation to help determine financial needs post-divorce.

Once an individual has an idea of their future financial needs, it's important to take steps to establish credit and keep track of one's credit reports. Divorcing individuals are advised to open bank accounts that are separate from a spouse as well as open an individual credit card account. Once a spouse has been notified of an impending divorce, it's wise to close all joint accounts to avoid possible future financial obligations and debts incurred by an angry ex-spouse.

In addition to taking the steps mentioned above, an individual would be wise to be selective when assembling a team of legal and financial professionals who can provide advice, guidance and assistance through the divorce settlement process. For example, it's important to select a divorce attorney who understands one’s future financial and life goals and can help ensure a divorce settlement brings a divorcee closer towards meeting those goals.

Source: Forbes, "Six Steps To Financial Spring Cleaning For Divorce," Jeff Landers, April 1, 2014