If you find that your marriage has come to a dead end, you will want the divorce to go as smoothly as possible.

This is an extremely emotional time in your life, but you need to be practical. To reduce stress and uncertainty, here are five steps to take in preparing for your divorce.

  1. Identify assets and debts

You will need to identify both marital and separate property, the latter being anything that belonged solely to you prior to your marriage, or that you inherited or received as a gift. Marital assets would include such items as your primary residence, vehicles and financial accounts. Each item must have a value. As to marital debt, the easiest way to identify what you owe is to obtain a copy of your credit report.

  1. Determine income

You will need documentation that verifies your income and that of your spouse. Bank account statements and financials will provide this information if your spouse is self-employed.

  1. Open credit in your name

Before the divorce proceeding begins, close all joint credit accounts in case your spouse decides to go on a spending spree. Open a credit card account in your name only. Pay the balance due in full every month to build a good credit score.

  1. Prepare your future budget

Once you have a good idea of your current financial picture, it will be easier to develop a post-divorce budget for yourself. Your lifestyle is about to change, but you can enter divorce negotiations knowing how much you will need to live on every month. If you have children, remember to figure their needs into the budget to determine the amount you will require for child support.

  1. Remain above reproach

Provide all the information you collect to your attorney and keep copies for yourself. As you prepare for divorce, remember the importance of remaining above reproach. Do not go out and party or use social media to air your thoughts about the breakup of your marriage. Stay close to home, focus on the welfare of your children, rely on legal guidance and prepare for a divorce that will (hopefully) go more smoothly than you anticipated.

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