1) Become well-informed early about your family’s assets and liabilities especially if you are not the spouse who has historically managed the money. Ensure that you have access to tax returns, retirement and investment account statements, credit card statements, household bills and any other important financial records.
2) Make a documentary or video inventory of valuable property, including real estate, art, collectibles, and vehicles.
3) Before fighting to keep the family home, think of the hidden costs. It is not just the mortgage that you will have to pay. Be mindful of the other expenses associated with owning the family home such as the taxes, utilities, insurance, and maintenance.
4) Budget thoroughly for what you will need to cover post-divorce expenses. Plan how much you will spend on food, clothes, health insurance, education, auto expenses, telephone, internet, and other essentials. Be sure to leave room in your budget for unforeseen expenses and inflation.
5) Don’t forget taxes. Consider the tax consequences of any proposed division of assets before agreeing to the division. And remember, all assets are not equal. If you have a choice between $100,000 in after-tax cash and $100,000 in a retirement account, the cash is more valuable to you.
6) Understand your obligations under your divorce agreement and follow through. After your divorce is finalized, be sure to update your will to protect your intended heirs, and transfer titles for real estate, cars, investment accounts, and other jointly held assets.
7) Keep realistic expectations. Often the desire for revenge or punishment of a former partner clouds one’s judgment and good financial decision- making. Ask someone you trust to be a check on whether your emotions are negatively influencing your choices.