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From custody to property, there is a lot to sort out during a divorce. The divorce process can take an emotional toll on individuals, but taking the time to get your finances ready prior to your court date can help minimize surprises and potential arguments.

There is a lot you can do with or without your soon-to-be ex to organize your finances prior to your divorce. This includes laying the groundwork for paperwork, listing expenses and understanding property division law.

Understand equitable distribution

Before your court date, it’s worth refreshing yourself on the basics of property division law. Like, most states, New York follows equitable distribution law. This means a judge gets to decide how to divide a divorcing couple’s property. The goal is a fair division, rather than just splitting all assets in half or awarding property to whoever’s name it’s in.

Track expenses and assets

Keeping a list of all expenses you currently face and will continue to face after your divorce can help a judge when it comes time to split assets and award child or spousal support. Essentially, keeping a record of both the income streams used to run your current household and the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly expenses you face can all be useful.

Listing future expenses is also important if you want a judge to fairly award support. For example, maybe you currently have young children who attend daycare but the plan is to enroll them in pricier, tuition-based private school in a couple of years.

Gather documents

Equitable property division often begins with listing all property and assets. But, before you begin such paper work, it’s worth gathering all financial records including:

  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Net worth documents
  • Vehicle titles
  • Mortgage statements
  • Bank, credit card, investment and retirement account statements

You may not have personal copies of these documents on hand, but jumping through hoops to get them sorted before your case can help your attorney provide a judge with proper evidence.

Before getting in over your head, try preparing for your divorce one day and one document at a time.