Information is power. It can make or break your case. Nothing will put you in a better position for a successful divorce than to take these three proactive steps.
- Be thoroughly familiar with your finances. Your post-divorce financial well-being should be a top priority. Failing to understand your finances could negatively impact you and your family for a lifetime. Do not put your head in the sand and hope it all works out. Take charge of your financial future. Never let your spouse control all of the financial documents and information. Insist on being involved in the bill paying and tax return preparation processes while you are still together. Check your credit reports to make sure your spouse has not used your credit or borrowed funds in your name without your knowledge. In other words, make it your job to be informed.
- Copy important documents. Before meeting with your lawyer, copy 3-5 years’ worth of the following documents and information: (i) personal and business tax returns, (ii) personal and business bank account and investment account statements, (iii) pension and retirement account statements, (iv) real estate deeds and mortgage statements, (v) life insurance and property insurance policies, (vi) documents evidencing other assets, including vehicles, boats, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, and intangibles (such as season tickets and frequent flier miles), (vii) credit card statements, (viii) loan documents, (ix) loan, mortgage, and credit applications (x) itemized cell phone bills (business and personal), (xi) emails and texts, (xii) social media posts, and, most importantly, (xiii) any evidence of your spouse’s “fault.” And keep the copies in a safe place—preferably at your lawyer’s office.
- Take pictures of your hard assets. Take pictures of vehicles, boats, jewelry, artwork, furniture, tools, guns, collectibles, and other hard assets. Pictures will help your lawyer identify and quantify them so you will get the best possible property division. Pictures also are evidence of assets that suddenly go missing. You should also videotape your home at the time of separation. It will provide further evidence of your assets, as well as protect you from claims that you stole assets or otherwise damaged the home.
Sonya B. Coffman is a Board Certified divorce lawyer in Beaumont, Texas. She also is a Certified Public Accountant. Ms. Coffman only practices divorce, property, and family law in Jefferson County, Texas. She has the expertise and experience to address complex financial issues, protect your business, and find hidden assets. She’s been doing it for over 25 years.