If you know that your marriage is coming to an end, it can be beneficial to begin preparing for the divorce process. It is understandable to feel emotional during this time. However, that should not stop you from taking the steps necessary to protect your interests during the divorce process.
One of the first things you can do to prepare for your divorce is to get yourself organized. This means collecting important documents, familiarizing yourself with your family’s assets and debts, and finding an appropriate way to store your documents.
Collect your family’s important documents
You will need your own copy of all your family’s important documents. By gathering these documents early, you can avoid losing access to them in the future.
Most of the documents you should gather will be of a financial nature. These can include:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Loan documents
- Tax returns
- Household budget records
- Investment account statements
Although many of the documents you will need are some sort of financial record, there are other important documents to grab too. Be sure to also collect insurance policies, estate plans and real estate deeds.
Get to know what your family has
Once you have collected all of your family’s important documents, take time to familiarize yourself with your family’s possessions. It can be helpful to make a list of assets and debts.
If you do choose to make this list, consider including additional information about each asset and debt listed. For example, you may indicate if you have any related documentation or if you believe the item is separate or community property.
Make sure you can find documents again as needed
Next, you may consider how you want to store your important documents. It is important to store them someplace safe where they won’t get stolen or tampered with. Many people choose to file their documents in a file cabinet that can be locked and kept in a safe location.
However, it is also important to store them in a way that will help you locate specific documents quickly if needed. The way you choose to group your documents when filing them is up to you. Any strategy that groups similar documents together can be successful if it helps you easily find your documents.
Taking the time to find and organize documents may not seem like the most enjoyable activity. However, it can be one of the first things you can do to prepare for divorce and one of the best ways to protect your interests during divorce.