Q. There are many things people need to understand, when they are considering a divorce. What do you think are the most important things to know when considering a divorce? What would be the first item of discussion?
A. You know, that is a good question, and I think information, personal information, is key. Five important issues for me, as an attorney, when I meet with a new client, is to know that information and it is helpful when a client has all that information. So first off, I would say know where the money is at. And what I mean by that is, as a married couple, know where your bank accounts are. What banking institutions do you use, your account numbers would be helpful, know what kind of balances you have in there. What kind of investments, stocks, mutual funds, retirement accounts, things of that nature. Know who’s names are on them. Are both names on them, who the beneficiary is. It is important to know where your liquid assets are.
The second thing I would say is, what I believe goes hand-in-hand with that, is know where your debt is at. Know what you owe on things. Know what you owe on your house, who is the mortgage holder, know what you owe on your cars, know what you owe in credit cards; what kind of credit cards you have, and what the balances are, and the account numbers, again, very helpful. And also an important issue is who is liable on that account. Are you both on that debt? Is it in your name, is it just in your spouse’s name? Things like that will be helpful in distributing that out in the divorce process.
Another important thing to know (the third issue) is to know where your assets are – Cars, boats, vacation properties, safety deposit boxes, any issues that maybe one spouse takes care of that. The other may not know so much information about that. It is good to find out where those things are so you are not left in the dark when it comes to signing on the dotted line.
Number four, I would say know where those important documents are. Are they in a safe deposit box, are they in a file in storage, are they in your spouse’s home office? If you can get copies of them, that is very helpful. It is not crucial, but you want to know where those important documents are. Life insurance policies, stock certificates, things like that, if it is applicable.
Finally I would say know what you need personally to live on. This is crucial if you are the female of the situation, maybe you are a stay-at-home mom. This is all going to be very new and maybe frightening for you. Maybe you handle the finances, maybe you do not. Finances will probably change, well, they undoubtedly will change, once divorce comes, but you are going to need to know how much you need per month, as a total of your rent, your utilities, your food, your gas, your insurance, telephone. Things like this you may have not thought about in the past, that are going to become very important in how you move forward.