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Pre-Separation Preparation Checklist

The stress of separation can be minimized by planning before events unfold. There are a number of steps you can take before separating that may ease the process protect your best interests during a divorce.

Organize papers

Compile names, account numbers, addresses, contacts, and phone numbers for assets and debts. Pay attention to bank accounts, credit cards, stocks, bonds, loans, mortgages, titles, deeds, agreements, wills, and powers of attorney. Obtain copies. Compile tax returns. If taxes are not current, file. Paycheck stubs and employment documentation also are helpful.

Ascertain Financial Fitness

Determine the marital estate's net worth. A marital estate is all that was acquired during marriage. Net worth is the total value of assets less total value of debts. Know what you may be entitled to after divorce. Keep inheritances in your name only and don’t pay marital expenses or purchase marital property with them.


Maintain a budget of expenses and income because this will assist in determining spousal and child support. A budget will provide a snapshot of what it takes to maintain your lifestyle post-divorce.

Build Credit

Obtain a copy of your credit report and score to review. Pay down debt, clean up dings in credit, and dispute items. You may need to qualify for a home or car loan singly post-divorce. Apply for credit in your name if you need to build credit because all of your prior credit was held jointly. Close joint accounts. Avoid refinancing before divorce and do not amass debt. Open your own checking account. Keep money in the account for emergencies. Open a post office box for bank statements if privacy and security are at issue. Think about future deposits, rent, utilities, moving expenses, and attorneys' fees.

Prepare for Self-Sufficiency

Alimony is becoming rare, so make sure you keep the job you have or obtain one. Training or education to return to the workforce may be necessary. You may need your own health insurance if you are on your spouse's coverage, which a job may provide. You may end up having to buy your own auto, home, and life insurance. Get medical and dental check-ups done while you have coverage.

Make Repairs

Get vehicles inspected and repairs done while you have a joint account. Get an oil change. Do the same with home repairs. Stock the fridge.

Consult Counsel

Leaving the marital home may forego alimony, affect your claim for the home, and impact custody. Consulting in advance with counsel will help you best protect your interests.

Safeguard Valuables

Photograph valuables for disputes during division of property. Inventory silver, china, jewelry, furniture, and electronics. Consider a safe deposit box for storing valuables or the home of a friend or loved one. Include sentimental items that may be destroyed in heated moments.