One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is the financial aspect. Suddenly, two households need to be maintained with the same income as what maintained one household before the separation. In addition, there are court filing fees, attorney fees, expenses for getting a new home and new ‘stuff,’ and many hidden expenses, such as the expense for taking time off work for court hearings, expenses in increased insurance, for example, and the list goes on.
One of the ways to protect yourself is to talk to both an attorney and a financial advisor. Both should be qualified and be working to help you and not trying to get more money out of you. If you educate yourself on the legal process and financial planning, you can make better decisions throughout the process. This will help you in the long run.
In addition, make sure you change the beneficiaries on your life insurance, retirements, and other payable-on-death accounts. Do you really want your ex getting your money? Similarly, update your estate plan to reflect your new circumstances. Note, however, that in California, once the Petition has been filed and served, you may not change your estate plan during the divorce/separation action without permission from your spouse or a court order.
Finally, do an assessment of what you have. Assemble your life insurance, bank/stock account documents, retirement accounts, debts, etc., and put them all in one place. Knowing what you have can be the first step in determining where you’re going and how to get there.