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When it comes to divorce, preparation is important

There is no doubt that people take decidedly different approaches when it comes to making the tough decision of when to initiate divorce proceedings. For some, the decision is made as soon as they discover evidence of infidelity or have one fight too many, while for others, the decision is postponed until school is out for the summer or the holiday season has passed.

Interestingly enough, experts indicate that the important question isn't necessarily when a person should be ready to go ahead with a divorce, but rather if they have undertaken the necessary preparations. In other words, it doesn't matter when you divorce, just that you're ready for it.

What steps then can a person take to help ensure that they are fully prepared for a divorce? 

Make sure you have important financial documents in your possession

Given that a significant part of the divorce process will likely involve discussions concerning both property division (assets and debts) and spousal support, experts indicate that it's absolutely imperative for a divorcing spouse to have copies of all important financial documents before filing. While this is something that, of course, could be accomplished after filing, they indicate that doing so beforehand can save time and help keep your interactions with your former spouse to a minimum. 

The financial documents -- which should cover everything from banking statements and income tax returns to retirement asset reports and debt declaration -- should typically be kept somewhere safe, such as with a relative or in a safe deposit box issued in your name only.

Assemble a divorce team

In addition to taking the time to find a skilled family law attorney to protect your rights before filing for a divorce, experts advise interviewing and selecting a divorce financial planner. Here, these professionals work alongside your attorney to thoroughly examine your financial situation and any proposed settlements to ensure it meets your best financial interests.

Open a new bank account and secure a credit card

One of the most important things to do before filing for a divorce, say experts, is opening both a checking account and a savings account in your name only at a completely different bank than the one you share with your soon-to-be former spouse. This helps ensure financial autonomy going forward.

Another important step, say experts, is first securing a copy of your credit report to ensure that everything is in order (no errors, etc.) and then applying for a credit card in your own name to help cover expenses for the near future.

Those who would like to learn more about the divorce process in general or have questions about specific divorce-related matters here in Minnesota -- including child custody, child support, property division, etc. -- should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: Forbes, "(Soon-to-be) divorcing women: What are you waiting for? here's how to prepare to file," Jeff Landers, June 26, 2014

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