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Your divorce needs as much planning as your wedding

When you prepared for your wedding, you likely spent months planning it. After all, you were preparing for the start of the rest of your life.

Are you now considering divorce? Once again, you will be getting ready for the onset of the rest of your life, and planning it with the same level of attention to detail as your marriage makes sense. Proper planning is even more important this time because you will enter the new chapter in your life by yourself -- without the support of your spouse.

Arm yourself

You will have to arm yourself with every bit of financial information you can find. If you were the spouse with less insight into the family finances, this might be a challenge. However, an important part of the preparation for divorce is building a team of professionals to provide guidance and support.

This is where you will find the help to gather the following necessary financial information:

  • For the purpose of property division, you will have to know all the details of all the assets you will divide. Gathering all of the relevant documentation is vital.
  • The same goes for retirement plans, bank and brokerage accounts and real estate.
  • Obtaining documented proof of the values of those assets can be helpful to your attorney.

Build your support team

Once you have gathered all the information to which you have access, it is time to build your team. While your friends and family will shower you with advice and suggestions, it may be wise to ask them to provide only moral support. Your lawyer can help you retain the services of other professionals, such as financial, real estate and tax advisors.

With the appropriate support, you may be able to identify any signs that your spouse is hiding assets. Inaccurate accounts that are presented to the court can adversely affect child and spousal support determinations.

With a financial planner's help, you can prepare a balance sheet showing the marital assets and liabilities, the family's cash flow and annual income. Also, remember that any joint debts or credit cards will remain the responsibility of you and your spouse -- regardless of agreements or court orders that allocate debts to only one of you.

To ensure you are financially independent when your joint accounts are closed, you might want to open a personal credit card account and bank account before filing for divorce and addressing any third-party contracts.

Mediation may be your best option

You can avoid relying on a judge to decide how to divide your property in your divorce by asking your attorney to arrange mediation. This will involve an impartial mediator providing a platform for negotiation through communication and compromise.

You and your spouse can have your respective attorneys present during mediation sessions, and if you can reach agreements, you can save valuable time and money. Your attorney can ensure you are treated fairly and that the final settlement agreement is ready to present to the court.

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