Backing up Financial Information Before You Go

If you are contemplating leaving your marriage you may consider taking a few steps before breaking the news to your spouse or leaving the house to make sure you protect yourself and your financial interests.  South Carolina family courts are courts of equity when it comes to dividing up marital assets.  But before you can divide up assets and debts you must be able to identify all of those assets debts and determine which portion of them are marital and non-marital.  You may find that once you break the news to your spouse about the impending divorce communication may break down and walls of protection may go up around both of you.  Before that happens you should attempt to gather as much information about your family finances as possible.  Here are some tips:

  1. Gather copies of tax returns;
  2. Gather copies of financial statements;
  3. Gather copies of insurance policies (whether they are term or whole life policies with a cash value and if they have a cash value, what it currently is).
  4. Inventories of property in the house – using a video camera to record a walk-through of the house is a great way to do this to make sure you don’t forget anything.
  5. Inventories of property in safe-deposit boxes (though you should take a witness with you to (1) verify what is in there when you went and (2) verify that you did not remove anything from the box)
  6. Retirement account statements.
  7. Appraisals of real estate and personal property like jewelry, art, etc.
  8. Copies of paystubs for you and your spouse for the year-to-date

Of course all of this information can theoretically be gathered in the discovery phase of your divorce litigation you can save a lot of time and a lot of money (on attorney fees) by having all of this information pulled together from the beginning.  Not only will you save yourself money on attorney fees, but you put yourself and your attorney in a better position when it comes to negotiating prior to and arguing at a temporary hearing.

Another thing that will come of this information is that the more your specific knowledge your attorney has about your case the better he/she will be able to advise you about the likely outcomes or the best courses of action for you with less assumption.

Hat tip to the Ohio Family Law Blog for the tips in this post from their post 12 Proactive Steps to Take If You are Contemplating Divorce.

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