Know Your Finances

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If you are contemplating separation, there are documents you need to gather and information you need to know.  (This article is not geared towards someone living in a domestic violence situation,  in which case your safety is of the upmost importance and documents can be obtained later).  You need to know and understand your current financial situation.  This means you need to have access to bank account statements and credit card statements as well as information as to how these accounts are titled.  Are they in individual names or in your and your spouse’s your names jointly? Do not rely on statements alone, as you may need to actually go to the bank to get the signature cards for the account.  Other necessary documents include:  mortgage statements, tax returns, retirement statements and recent pay stubs for both you and your spouse, as well as vehicle information.  Tax returns contain a wealth of helpful information for your attorney to review to understand your financial situation. In some instances, it is not as easy to gather these documents once your spouse becomes aware that you want a divorce. It will be more costly to have your attorney try to obtain all these documents. You may not be able to get everything yourself and that’s okay.  Don’t be discouraged.  Gather as much as you can.

Even if divorce is not on the radar, both spouses should have knowledge of their financial situation.  While one spouse may be the one to actually pay the bills, it is important to be aware of the finances of your household, so you are not playing “catch up”  if you do end up separating.  Even if your marriage is secure, you need this information if something should happen to your spouse.  It is also important to have the information in one location so the executor of your estate can access it after your death.

You should also meet with an attorney prior to separating.  A consultation will help you understand the issues you are facing.  Many people do not want to engage in protracted litigation with good reason, but just meeting with an attorney does not mean you will spend years in court.  It is important to understand your legal issues so you can move forward with peace of mind.

If you have questions or concerns relating to the topic of this article or any other divorce related legal issue, please reach out to us at 704-243-9693 or at

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