FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-03-13
Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of a person’s life. Often the last thing a person facing the breakdown of a marriage wants to do is try to sort out finances. However, people going through divorce need to adequately prepare for the divorce settlement negotiation so they can protect their interests and be secure in the long run.
Gather Financial Documents
Someone preparing for divorce settlement negotiation needs to know all of the assets and liabilities that the couple has to divide between them. To understand the extent of the couples’ finances, a person should collect financial documents such as:
- Tax records
- Bank account numbers and statements
- Investment account numbers and statements
- Stocks and bonds
- Retirement account or pension plan information
- Mortgage documents
- Auto leases
- Loan documents
- Credit card numbers and statements
- Evidence of inheritance or gifts to one spouse
Make a Budget
A person should review his or her personal finances and determine what his or her monthly income and expenses will be as a single person. Doing so puts one in a better position to understand how much he or she may need for spousal or child support.
Additionally, a person must consider whether he or she wants to keep the marital homes and if doing so is feasible, given the cost of the mortgage payments, taxes and maintenance.
Consider the Children
The couple should prioritize the needs of the children when considering the divorce settlement. They need to determine who will have custody and how much child support the custodial parent needs. Additionally, parents need to ensure that the children maintain adequate health insurance coverage.
Parents should also decide whether and how large future expenses, such as college tuition, will be paid and the costs apportioned.
Future Financial Security
Someone facing a divorce needs to plan for the future when negotiating the divorce settlement. People should review retirement savings accounts such as 401(k) plans, IRAs and pensions with financial professionals so they understand the full value of such assets.
Talk to a Lawyer
Going through a divorce can be intimidating for the simple fact that many people have never had contact with the legal system before. An experienced family law attorney can help guide a person through the divorce process while looking out for the person’s best interests.