• Divorce Prep 101
  • February 3, 2011 | Author: Amy L. Reiss
  • Law Firm: Amy L. Reiss - New York Office
  • Some clients make an appointment to see me years before a formal action for divorce is brought, others arrive after a summons is served. The latter, often wish they had prepared in advance, as educating oneself about income, assets and debts while emotionally distraught can be overwhelming. Coming up to speed on the following check list during a marriage is: a) savvy, b) empowering for a relationship, and c) can save legal fees and aggravation in the event a divorce materializes.

    I. Assets:

    It’s surprising how many people do not know what assets comprise the marital estate. All spouses should have a conversation about what assets are owned, who maintains title to such assets, and the creditors of any debts which encumber the assets. This is not only important for general financial planning, but is essential in the event of divorce, or death. It’s helpful to review any monthly statements, whether on-line or hard copy.

    II. Income:

    Know how much money is earned each month, through employment and investments. For back-up make a copy of all annual income tax returns. Often times, one spouse has the returns prepared by an accountant and the other spouse signs without looking. Not only should the less involved spouse review the return, but a copy should always be made.

    III. Budget:

    Talking to a group of well educated women recently, I learned that many of them had no idea how much their family spent on a monthly basis. By reviewing all categories of expenses, plus credit cards, and cash expenditures, couple’s should have a ball park figure of the monthly nut.

    IV. Debts:

    Whose name, the amount, the creditor, and the details of the payment plan, are the key items in this category.

    V. Insurance:

    Not that interesting (and often expensive) spouses should know the carrier, cost and coverage of all insurances including health, life, car, property, and umbrella policies. Keeping a list of contact information and policy numbers for the carriers is a plus.