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When divorce is looming, it may feel overwhelming, both emotionally and practically. Even if neither spouse has filed papers to begin the divorce process with the New Jersey courts, there are important steps one can take to improve the chances of obtaining a fair and appropriate outcome. This is particularly true when it comes to one’s finances.

Unfortunately, many people struggle financially after a divorce, especially if they have not taken the time to carefully assess and organize their financial documentation before divorcing. Gathering this documentation as early as possible is critical since divorcing spouses often become less willing to cooperate and share information as the divorce progresses. Important information to gather includes proof of both spouses’ incomes, an inventory of joint and separate assets, and copies of statements from all investments and bank accounts.

Debt is one area of finances a divorcing couple may overlook. However, the court order or a settlement will divide debts as well as assets. Paying off credit cards and closing joint accounts before divorcing can reduce the chances of building up more debt to deal with after the divorce. Each spouse may want to prepare for the future by starting separate bank accounts and opening individual credit cards.

Perhaps the most important step for a spouse facing divorce is to seek high quality advice about the financial, personal or legal questions he or she may have. For example, having a skilled and experienced attorney means having an advocate who knows New Jersey divorce laws and will fight to help one achieve his or her goals. Obtaining this guidance early in the process can improve the chances of avoiding mistakes and obtaining a fair outcome.