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How to organize finances and prepare for a divorce

California couples who are considering divorce may wonder how they can prepare their finances. They may be getting advice from family and friends, but if that advice comes from other situations, it may not apply to them. It may be better to consult professionals, such as an attorney or a certified divorce financial analyst, rather than relying on the experiences of others.

People should begin keeping track of expenses so they can make a budget and also start to get a sense of how property may be divided. They should gather financial documents including tax returns, retirement account and credit card statements, information on loans and pay stubs. Later, if one spouse becomes reluctant to share financial information, this documentation may be valuable. However, people should be aware that if a couple shares accounts and requests information about those accounts, the request could be shared with the other person.

Although the divorce may start amicably, people should be prepared for the possibility that the other spouse might obstruct the process. However, a person should still avoid making any major financial decisions. There could be serious legal consequences for making changes to a will or beneficiary designation before the divorce is final. People should also avoid changes in spending.

Divorces involving significant assets may have elements that make the process more complex. For example, the couple might have investments or own a business together. An uncooperative spouse might try to hide assets. California is a community property state, and this means that unless there is a prenuptial agreement, most assets that the couple acquire after marriage are considered shared property. This means that even if only one has earned most of the income, the property might be divided between the two.

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