Preparing for the property division phase of your divorce

If you are facing divorce, you are probably dreading the property division process, especially if you accumulated significant assets during your marriage.

Here are five tips to help you prepare for property division and make this phase of your divorce less stressful.

1. Gather financial records

This may take some time, but put your financial house in order for your divorce. Both you and your spouse should assemble complete financial information. Provide a set of documents to your attorney, and keep copies for yourself in a safe location. Your marital assets may include not only bank accounts, retirement plans and stock options, but also antiques, valuable art and home furnishings, horses and other animals.

2. Open separate accounts

If possible, you and your spouse should open separate bank and credit card accounts before the divorce process begins. Split any monthly income in half until you learn how income will be divided.

3. Manage joint bank accounts

If you and your spouse find it necessary to maintain a joint account, your attorney can prepare a written agreement that describes the activity in that account and where the funds go. It is a good idea to require two signatures on checks written from a joint account.

4. Freeze investments

To avoid any misuse of funds, be sure to freeze any investment accounts you hold.

5. Identify separate property

Separate property refers to any kind of asset that belonged to you alone prior to your marriage, as well as any gift or inheritance you received during your marriage. For instance, if you still own a classic 1965 Mustang that was your everyday transportation before you married, the court will require you to prove this car is your separate property.

Going forward

Pennsylvania is an equitable division state, which means the court may or may not divide property 50/50 in a divorce. The goal of the court will be to divide it fairly. The more prepared you are, the fewer the problems and unpleasant surprises there will be during the property division phase of your divorce.

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