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Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation? Take these Steps Now! Thumbnail

Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation? Take these Steps Now!


Water Street Financial strives to guide one through divorce or legal separation. We start by helping the client get organized prior to mediation or court proceedings and then we help the client determine their goals and objectives for mediation sessions or court proceedings (e.g. Do you want the primary residence?). The ultimate objective is to complete the divorce or legal separation process with a satisfactory result. Our goal is to propel the client forward with a clear, comprehensive financial plan in pursuit of their individual goals and the next phase of their life. 

  1. Organize Your Finances (the list below is not exhaustive): 
    • Begin to build out a Net Worth Statement (Assets minus Liabilities) to include all assets & liabilities as well as those of your spouse and any Joint-owned accounts. 
    • Be sure to locate, copy, and file (hard copy or digital files) all bank (cash) account, investment account, and liability (loan), and credit card statements for you and your spouse. 
    • Locate and file pay stubs and track income and expenses accurately. Is your spouse entitled to any future income streams such as a Pension? If so, you may have a claim to this income. 
    • Obtain copies of all Personal (and Business, if applicable) Federal & State tax returns. 
    • Get a copy of real estate deed(s) for property owned and include any recent appraisals. 
    • Gather an inventory of all personal belongings and appraised value of high value items. 
    • Lastly, be sure to gather copies of legal documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Medical Directives, Guardianship (as it applies), and Trusts. 
  2. Be Careful with Social Media: Don’t put anything too personal on social media. Any posts could come to light in court and your children may become privy to negative posts and comments. Proceed with the utmost caution. 
  3. Watch your Spending and that of your Spouse: monitor spending in Joint-owned accounts and be prepared to produce statements and documents for any irregularities. This could be an expensive process so save as much as you can. 
  4. Choose a Legal Path: DIY, mediator, attorney, or a combination thereof. What is best for you and your spouse? Can you both come to an agreement? Consider cost of each option and understand that attorneys do not often come cheap. 
  5. Have a Support System in Place: Friends, Family, and even professional counseling or therapy, can be valuable when making important decisions
  6. Get your Own Checking Account: if you don’t already have one. Consider a credit card in your own name if you don’t have one. 
  7. Begin to Update Beneficiaries to Existing Personal Accounts and Legal Documents: start by updating beneficiaries on all individually owned investment accounts and all life insurance policies and property titles. Then engage an estate attorney to begin drafting new legal documents: Will, Power of Attorney, and Advanced Medical Directive. 

 If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us today.

Important Disclosure

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Water Street Financial and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation. Thank you.


Williams, Geoff. “Financial Steps to Take Before, During and After Your Divorce,” U.S. News & World Report, 18 May 2020, money.usnews.com.  

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