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Are you prepared for the divorce process?

When a marriage ends and divorce is eminent, it's normal to feel both excited and scared about the future. This is often particularly true for individuals who, during a marriage, relied upon a spouse's income for financial support. As with many things in life, when faced with making the numerous judgment calls and decisions that accompany the divorce process, it's best to rely upon the advice and guidance of experts.

For anyone who is facing a divorce, it's wise to secure a team of legal and financial professionals who can guide you successfully through the divorce process. In addition to hiring the right divorce team to help ensure that you make decisions that will ultimately benefit you both during and after a divorce, it's also important to know your current financial status as well as to define your future financial needs and goals.

If you don't have your own checking account or a means of establishing credit, it's important to take steps to secure assets in your own name prior to filing for divorce. While your legal team will certainly work to ensure that you walk away from a divorce with your fair share of assets, it's also crucial to have ready access to assets while going through a divorce. You'll not only need to pay bills and buy basic necessities, but also divorce-related fees. Additionally, if you're forced to borrow money to make it through a divorce, you're more likely to rush the process and potentially make costly decisions and concessions.

If your soon-to-be ex-spouse previously handled the family finances, it's time to take control and work to discover exactly how much you and your spouse have been earning, spending, saving and investing. Additionally, taking a closer look into family finances may also reveal that a spouse has been hiding assets.

In addition to keeping track of activities on any shared accounts, reviewing tax documents can also provide clues of an ex's financial infidelity or questionable activities. Having knowledge and proof of a spouse's dishonest or even potentially illegal financial activities can be beneficial during the settlement process.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "How to Handle Investments When You Divorce," Lou Carlozo, Nov. 16, 2015

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