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Five tips to help prepare for a divorce

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The author of a new book written for women facing divorce has come up with five helpful tips to help prepare for the end of a marriage. While written with women in mind, the tips apply equally to husbands and wives.

First, collect copies of documents relating to the couple's finances, such as bank and credit card statements. The author suggests that the partner put these documents in a safe place. Note that one should collect copies of the documents, not the originals, as both partners will ultimately need access to the information. Collecting the documents ahead of time is helpful because it may be more difficult to obtain a spouse's cooperation as the divorce progresses.

Second, review your credit report. Know what it contains and make sure that it is accurate. Good credit can be especially important for getting back on one's feet after getting cut off from a partner's income. Also, paying attention to credit history can reveal a partner's spending habits, which may be used as evidence in the divorce proceedings.

Third, open up bank and credit accounts in your name -- and only your name. The author suggests that the accounts be with a different organization than the ones that handle the couple's joint accounts.

Fourth, obtain professional representation. Of course, this means hiring a competent family or divorce lawyer, but depending on the complexity of your finances, it may also mean contacting a financial planner.

Fifth, people planning for divorce should pay special attention to their partner's activities. Spouses have been known to hide funds and assets to prevent their husband or wife from accessing it during the divorce. It is illegal, but it happens anyway.

Following these tips can help a divorce go smoother and help keep one's finances in order throughout and beyond the divorce process.

Source: Forbes, "Five best financial tips for women divorcing in 2013," Jeff Landers, Dec. 18, 2012

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