Regardless of who earned an income during a marriage, both parties have their own financial interests to tend to if the marriage comes to an end. California residents should look to open their own bank accounts, learn the basics of financial management and close all joint accounts as soon as possible. Doing so can help a person gain leverage in divorce settlement talks. It can also prevent any new joint debt from accruing before the divorce is finalized.

If one person chose to stay home during the marriage, it may be up to the other spouse to handle a larger share of marital debt. At the very least, that person could be required to make payments until the other can find a job and start contributing financially. Those who are worried that the other spouse will hold onto or destroy valuables that don’t belong to them should secure them quickly.

It may also be a good idea to get a post office box to ensure that mail isn’t intercepted by a potentially abusive spouse. One document that can be worth obtaining is a credit report. Ideally, people will obtain a copy of their own report and a copy of their spouse’s report. This can make it easier to spot any hidden accounts or any financial issues either person could have.

In both divorces involving significant assets and those with less on the line, it may be worthwhile to seek legal counsel when ending a marriage. An attorney may represent an individual during mediation sessions or in a courtroom if necessary. Legal counsel may also be able to provide advice as to what a person should do or not do to obtain the best possible settlement in a timely manner.