The more prepared you are, the less stressful the property division phase of your divorce will be.
Replace anxiety with good preparation and take a practical approach to the task of dividing your marital property.
Know how to start
- Both you and your spouse will need a set of all your financial records. Give the documents to your attorney but be sure to keep copies for yourself.
- If you can, close any joint credit card accounts and establish credit in your name alone. You and your spouse should also open separate bank accounts.
- If you must maintain a joint bank account, prepare a written agreement stating its use. Going forward, two signatures should appear on all checks.
- Freeze any investment accounts you have so that neither of you can use those funds during the divorce process.
Know what to look for
Assets are not confined to bank accounts, vehicles and the marital home. Assets include furnishings, clothing and jewelry, art and other valuable collections. They also include such items as retirement accounts, pensions, the proceeds of your life insurance policies, real property, rental property, boats, ATVs, season tickets and even your cemetery plots. Make lists to help you stay organized.
Know what to expect
During property division, your assets must undergo identification with a value assigned to each. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means that you can expect the judge to divide all assets fairly, but not necessarily equally. When you prepare well and approach the process in a practical way, property division should go smoothly and hold few surprises.