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What to do when divorce is on the horizon

Some divorces come as a complete surprise to one spouse. But in many cases, both spouses see it coming. Colorado readers who are in this unhappy stage of marriage would be wise to take some steps to prepare for the divorce. This is especially important for someone who has been financially dependent, in whole or in part, on their spouse during the marriage.

One woman has written an article about the two most important things she did to get prepared. The first thing she did was to get a full-time job with health insurance. She knew that she would need a solid financial footing if she was going to be on her own. The second thing she did was to undertake a detailed review of her finances, tracking all her income and expenses, to make sure she really could make it on her own.

There are other suggestions that could be added to a list like this. For example, anyone who foresees divorce in their future should not only review their finances, but collect and make copies of all their important financial records. This would include at the very least tax returns for the past several years, expense records, a copy of the most recent mortgage statement, and all monthly bills. Records about pensions and retirement plans - of both spouses - are important. Make copies and put them in a safe place - out of the house if necessary.

Another important step is to make a detailed list of all assets, including records showing the value of real estate and other big items. A spouse anticipating divorce should also make a list of all their separate property. In Colorado, separate property is that which a spouse either brought to the marriage, or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. This is property the owner is entitled to keep; it is not divided with their spouse. Finally, it is a good idea to start putting some money aside to cover legal and other professional fees.

Divorce is not a pleasant experience. But going into it prepared can make it a lot more bearable.

Source: Huffington Post, "Life After Divorce: Why Every Woman Needs a Plan B," Sept. 2, 2013