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5 financial steps to take once you decide to divorce

Divorcing your spouse is sure to alter your personal life and finances in a variety of ways. But despite the stress associated with divorce, you can't let it get you down to the point of simply coasting through the process.

Here are five financial steps you should take once you decide to divorce. Doing these things will put your mind at ease, while also allowing you to feel better about the future.

  • Gather all applicable financial records: This can include but is not limited to bank account statements, retirement account statements, pay stubs, tax returns and billing statements.
  • Create a property division checklist: This outlines the property that you own jointly and separately. The four categories should include real estate, personal property, financial assets and business assets.
  • Review your budget, create a budget: Once you review your current budget, you can then create a new one for your post-divorce life. It's difficult to finalize your budget before your divorce comes to a conclusion, but you can at least get the basics in place.
  • Close joint accounts, open individual accounts: It's critical to close all joint accounts, such as credit cards and bank accounts, as you don't want to give your ex reason to believe they can still use it. Once you do this, open individual accounts for your personal use.
  • Consult with a professional: For example, if you have concerns about saving for retirement after your divorce, consult with a financial planner who can review your situation and provide the guidance necessary to get you back on track. Also, meet with your tax professional to better understand the impact your divorce will have on your tax situation, both now and in the future.

Once you realize that divorce is on the horizon, you can take these five steps to improve your financial situation and prepare for the future.

As the divorce process begins, do your part in protecting your legal rights as they relate to your finances. It's the steps you take during divorce that will affect your finances in the weeks, months and years to come. Don't let a mistake now bog you down in the future.

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