When someone decides to end their marriage, their finances are likely to change dramatically. People will often no longer be able to rely on joint income to pay bills, and assets will need to be divided. To help someone reduce their risks of financial problems following a divorce, it can be beneficial for people to understand their finances and determine their date of separation.
It's a good idea for someone to collect their financial documents and assess their assets. Most assets a couple has will be considered joint assets, eligible for property division, so it's important that individuals are aware of how much they have in bank and retirement accounts as well as how much they owe on credit cards, automobiles or a home mortgage.
People may also want to find out when their date of separation is. In some states, it only refers to when one spouse tells the other they want a divorce. However, in others, it is the date that assets stop being joint. Any debts or assets gained after the date of separation are a person's own, so when purchases are made or bonuses occur can have a significant impact on property division.
Along with matters related to property division, people going through a divorce will also have to determine how to handle custody and visitation as well as alimony, child support or both. While these matters can normally be negotiated, if a couple cannot come to an agreement, the matter may be decided by the court. A lawyer could assist someone during negotiations or represent them in court and help them seek an equitable outcome.