You thought it might be happening, but you weren’t sure, and now your mate is gone. You feel debilitated with barely enough energy to get out of bed and get the kids to school. But you know you can’t just sit around because you are now the one who must handle your life. Your mate did the money, including the bills and the mortgage and the car payment and who knows what else, and now, with that person not around, you don’t know where to start. This is a critical time for you: despite your hurt, there are steps you need to take right away to avoid worse problems later. Here are five things at the top of that list:
- Get your credit report. These are offered through several services, one of which may be your bank. A credit report allows you to see what debts you and your spouse have. You share your credit with your spouse, and his or her actions can ruin you. Frequently, in a divorce, one spouse learns for the first time that the other spouse took on a major debt. A credit report prevents against such an in-court surprise. Get knowledgeable.
2. Close joint accounts. To prevent your mate from running up debts that you may be held responsible for, cancel all joint credit cards immediately and apply for credit cards that are in your name alone. Even the credit cards you have not used in years. Similarly, if you have a joint loan, you may want to either pay off the loan or sell the asset.
3. Create a financial plan. Make sure you have enough money to live on for the next few months. You are going to lose one income and face some new expenses. It is important to set aside enough money to live on for several months and to also budget. Cutting back on some costs will cut down on your stress in an already emotional time. You may also find it useful to talk to a financial planner.
4. Open a bank account in your name. Now that you are out on your own again, it is time to rebuild your credit. One of the first steps is to open your own bank account. Arizona is a community property state, meaning that any money you or your spouse earn during marriage is split between you. And remember that the fact that the two of you have separated does not mean that the marriage has ended. But go ahead and do your separate account anyway. If the Petition for Dissolution ever turns into a finalized divorce, then all the money that went into your account as of the date of the service of the Petition will be deemed to be your separate property. Confusing? I understand. Talk to an Arizona Divorce Lawyer.
5. Create a record of your assets and property. This starts with taking inventory of all your assets and personal property. You need to have a written list and photographs of the property that you and your spouse own. Put together an organized file with records of all marital property, assets, debts and financial documents (bank account statements, credit card statements, 401K documents, life insurance, tax returns, etc.), and photos. Make sure that they are organized in a way that enables you to find each document quickly. This will also make it easier for your divorce lawyer (which will save you money).
Finally, divorce is an emotional and complicated process, and you will have a lot on the line. It really is in your best interest to get an Arizona Divorce Lawyer on your side as soon as possible.