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Protecting yourself from financial mistakes during divorce

Deciding to divorce can set into motion a whirlwind of change. Many of those changes can be dramatic, especially in the area of your finances. It is not unheard of for a spouse to struggle financially after a divorce even if he or she was comfortable during the marriage. This occurs often after the spouse makes critical mistakes during the divorce process.

Before filing any papers, you can take steps to protect your future. Even if you and your spouse hope to achieve an amicable split, looking out for yourself and your best interests is still important. You can do this by obtaining solid legal advice and avoiding any of the common missteps in a divorce.

Getting your documents in order

The longer you and your spouse were married, the more entangled your finances probably became. If you own property together, have joint bank accounts and investments, and have undertaken home improvements, you can help yourself by gathering as much documentation about these joint ventures as possible. You will also need to have an accurate record of your spouse's earnings as well as your joint debts and individual credit histories.

One of the biggest mistakes made during divorce is failing to obtain this critical evidence of your combined worth as early as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that your spouse will hide the information from you. Gathering this information may be time consuming, but it will pay off during property division.

Avoiding mistakes

Every action you take to protect your finances now can affect your financial future. Obtaining a fair division of property begins with having a complete picture of your joint affairs and being protective of your situation, for example:

  • Pay off and close any joint credit cards.
  • Remove your spouse as an authorized user of your individual credit accounts.
  • Keep your personal and financial life out of your social media.
  • Understand the complete financial weight of fighting for the house during property division.
  • Learn about the tax ramifications for dividing assets like retirement funds, stocks and other investments.
  • Consider a less expensive method of divorce than courtroom litigation.

Many Pennsylvania couples turn to alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or collaboration, because it is less expensive but also because you can keep the details of your divorce private. You may also find your post-divorce relationship with your spouse is more positive than if you go through a conventional divorce, which often turn adversarial even when they begin otherwise. The advice of a skilled attorney can benefit you in making decisions throughout your divorce, including the most advantageous division of property to seek.

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