Find Your Joint Assets

Headshot of Margy Klaw

This is part two of an ongoing series about being financially prepared for a divorce. Read part one here.

Heather is a 42-year-old social worker with three kids, a house, a mortgage, and a small retirement account. She has consulted a lawyer and answered yes to the question, “Can I afford to get divorced – financially and emotionally?”

If you’re like Heather, your next step is to gather information about three things—assets, debts, and income.

And remember: Title doesn’t matter. You and your lawyer need to know about all of it—what’s in your name, his name, and both your names.

Include assets like real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, retirement plans, personal property (cars, valuable jewelry)—and debts, i.e. the balances owed on credit cards, mortgages, car, and student loans.

For income, find your most recent tax returns and current pay stubs or other documentation of income.

Don’t know where to find all this information? That’s okay. Eventually both spouses will be required to share all their financial data. Even if your list is incomplete, it will give you and your lawyer the overview you need to plan ahead and to figure out what you should negotiate for in a settlement.

Your new financial landscape will begin to emerge.

Recon time. Do you know where all of your financials live?

Margaret Klaw is a founding partner with Berner Klaw & Watson in Philadelphia. She blogs at Family Law Unraveled.

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