Couples get divorced for many different reasons, and the more assets and children involved, the more complicated the process can be.
From simple, amicable dissolutions to complicated, tension-filled divorces, the following five steps should be of the utmost importance when it comes to protecting your financial future.
1. Collect financial records
Before you even begin the process, both parties should gather up all financial records. You may need up to five years of documents such as payroll stubs, bank statements, property information, investment accounts, tax returns and benefit information. Make a copy of every document and keep it someplace safe outside your home.
2. Track your credit report
Obtain and print a copy of your credit report so you can be aware of any suspicious activity during your divorce. If you have joint credit accounts with your spouse, he or she can run up your bills and affect your credit negatively. If you notice anything wrong in your credit report, it's a good idea to address it up front.
3. Close any joint accounts
If you've been married for a while, you are likely to have joint checking and savings accounts, credit cards and even mortgage and car payments. Once it has been decided who gets what, you want your name removed from anything that can affect your credit. If your name remains on the mortgage and your spouse decides not to pay for the home, it can put your good credit in jeopardy.
4. Do an asset inventory
While gathering your financial documents, take an inventory of all your joint and individual assets. Anything you owned before the marriage, inheritances or gifts that were given strictly to you should be considered yours, while anything that you obtained during the marriage must be split as marital property.
5. Start saving your own money
Divorce can be expensive, and both spouses may find themselves facing significant changes when it comes to finances. Both parties should begin saving their own money as early as possible to ensure that they are prepared to handle the financial changes that will come from switching to one income.
If you are considering a divorce and aren't sure which steps to take first, it may benefit you to speak to an attorney who can answer any questions you have about the divorce process in Arizona.