When two people enter into a marriage, it's generally a happy time of joy and high expectations for a lifelong commitment. The idea of that bliss turning into anger and despair is usually never on any couples mind when saying “I do.” However, these days the reality is that many times this is exactly what happens; what was imagined ends up evaporating into the unexpected and difficult situations of life.
1. Inventory your non-marital and marital assets prior to consulting with an attorney.
The dictionary would define non-marital assets as property considered by the courts to belong to one spouse or another and that which is not available for equitable distribution. Basically, that just simply means they are not part of the assets divided in a divorce. Some types of these assets include:
• Inherited property
• Items brought to the marriage
• Gifts given specifically to one person as opposed to the married couple
Sometimes these non-marital assets can become mixed with marital assets and prevent claiming them upon divorce. An example of this would be if an item such as a boat were purchased prior to marriage, and then sold during marriage in order to purchase another item such as a car. In situations like this, it is very important to have a traceable paper trail showing where the assets were and where they were transferred into to be able to claim it as a non-marital asset.
2. Start Your Own Credit History
In some cases, there are people about to become divorced who lived their life on their spouse's coat tails, and were never in a position to build up a good credit score. Having established your own credit history is important. This is because when you find yourself on your own, you may need to obtain a credit card, new car, and even new mortgage. These days these things will generally require a credit history. This can be started by opening up a new credit card, or adding your name to all household accounts and investments. Your spouse may need to give special permissions in some cases.
At the same time, it would also be wise to not start spending large amounts of money, buying high price items, etc, as you want to make your debt situation as simple as possible. The more outstanding debt, loans, and property you have prior to divorce will only create a more intricate, time costing, and stressful divorce proceeding.
4. Keep Track of Your Financial Records
In marriage, many couples have varied financial holdings which can range from checking and saving accounts, 401K's, IRA's, stocks, CD's, etc. These may be joint or even separate accounts, but in either scenario it is good to keep track of them all. This means keep or make copies of all regular statements in a place that you have easy access to. This possibly may even be a place your spouse may not. Once divorce proceedings commence, it can be quite common for evidence of these things to conveniently disappear, leaving question to what you may be entitled to.