Preparation can help take the pressure off of a divorce

This article looks at some of the things to do before filing for divorce to relieve a bit of the financial stress.

Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences just about anybody can go through and it affects them both emotionally and financially. However, while most divorces are unpleasant, there are ways to help ease some of the financial toll that a divorce can cause. Preparation is often the key to going through a relatively stress-free divorce. The following steps to take before getting divorced can lead to both a more favorable divorce agreement and less overall financial worry and anxiety.

Track finances

Divorce requires two people to split their assets and liabilities, but to do that fairly it is necessary that both parties actually know what those assets and liabilities are. The spouse who has typically not been in charge of the couple's finances will be at an extreme disadvantage when negotiating the division of their property. That is why tracking finances, including credit card and bank statements, well before actually filing for divorce is so important. As MarketWatch points out, it is also a good idea to get credit reports from the big three credit reporting agencies.

Keep finances separate

As USA Today reports, while it may not make sense to close joint accounts immediately, it is important to start keeping one's finances as separate from one's spouse as possible. Having a separate account for one's own money will make the division of property a much simpler process later on.

Keep records

Good record keeping will make divorce negotiations go much more smoothly than otherwise. While a court can always compel the other spouse to produce records that one may not already have, it is generally easier, cheaper, and less time consuming if both spouses are already in possession of the same documents. Some records to keep copies of include bank statements, mortgages, investment accounts, retirement accounts, auto loan statements, income tax returns, pay stubs, and any other documentation that will help an attorney get a more complete picture of the couple's finances.

Watch out for beneficiary changes

With divorce on the horizon, it may seem like a good idea to change the beneficiary designations on wills, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. However, doing this when divorce proceedings are about to begin or have already begun could land one in legal trouble. These changes will need to be worked out during legal proceedings and trying to do them on one's own could result in either a contempt of court charge or the judge awarding these assets to the other spouse.

Family law help

Keeping divorce entirely stress-free may not be likely, but it is certainly possible to relieve some of the pressure that an unplanned divorce leads to. A family law attorney will be essential at helping make the divorce process feel a little less anxiety-ridden. With the help of an attorney, those going through a divorce will have an advocate on their side fighting for their rights.