Ending a marriage is one of the most stressful experiences one can ever have. Emotions can be intense, and many people are anxious over the uncertainty it can cause for their financial future.
However, one way to take some semblance of control over fairly dividing marital assets is to do your homework before filing for divorce.
Organization is the key
Spouses ride a roller coaster of emotion when they realize their marriage is over. But you can ease those out-of-control feelings by getting organized long before the divorce paperwork is filed. Take these three steps:
Inventory all property: These are items owned either separately or jointly by you and your spouse. They include:
- Bank and investment accounts
- Deeds for a home or other property
- Mortgage documents
- Copies of wills or trusts
- Insurance policies
- Business ownership paperwork
- Pay stubs
- Retirement funds
- Credit card statements
- Personal financial statements
- List of all marital and nonmarital property
Sort these documents: You can save your attorney a lot of time and yourself a lot of money by logically organizing these items. That means putting all homeownership documents together, banking and investment information, and so on. This will protect you and your attorney from leaving out a significant asset, which could hurt you down the road.
Classify assets: Once you’ve found and sorted these documents, it’s a good idea to note whether they are owned by both spouses or just one. If you’re not sure, such as how businesses, retirement accounts, property owned before the marriage or inheritances are divided, your attorney understands Illinois laws related to the equitable distribution of assets. This means all property owned by both parties will be “fairly divided,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an equal split.
Being prepared helps ease the strain
While no divorce is the same, and everyone handles the process differently, identifying marital assets ahead of divorce puts you in a better position for a fair outcome. While the future may still present some uncertainty, understanding your financial situation gives you some peace of mind and allows you to focus on a brighter future.