The financial side of divorce

Going through a divorce may be a difficult time. There are important steps you can take to protect yourself financially, both now and in the future.

1. Stabilize your finances

As you prepare to get a divorce, you may want to keep your financial situation as steady as possible and begin gathering information. Here are some tips for stabilizing your financial situation:

  • Don’t make any large purchases or take out loans.
  • Don’t transfer or give away any jointly held assets.
  • Don’t sign anything before showing it to your attorney. 
2. Gather your financial records
  • Very early in the process, gather account statements and transaction histories for banking and investment accounts, loans, and credit cards.
  • Gather past tax returns — from before and during the marriage.
  • Make copies of all records.
  • Check the contents of your safe-deposit boxes and record an inventory.
  • Check your credit report.
  • If you work with a financial professional, seek advice regarding the divorce. 
3. Consider your long-term plan

Once you've taken these immediate steps, it is time to consider the longer-term effects. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Look at your needs and income. Can you support yourself without your spouse’s income?
  • Make a list of your assets, their value and whether you own them jointly. Which do you want to keep or give up?
  • List your liabilities, too — loans and obligations. Which will you keep? Will you afford them on your own?
  • How will getting a divorce affect your insurance coverage? Will you need to seek new coverage? 
4. Review your information 

Here are some details to check after the divorce is final:

  • Confirm that your former spouse’s name is off your accounts.
  • Review and revise your beneficiaries for all your accounts, including: life, disability, health, dental and vision insurance, credit cards, bank and credit union accounts, and retirement plans.
  • Review the number of dependents you’re claiming on your employee taxes.
  • Look at your retirement savings plan. Now that you’re single, you may need to save more for retirement.

This can be a trying and confusing time. Consider getting guidance from a financial professional.