What to avoid when a divorce is looming

In an ideal divorce, both spouses will be honest about their financial situations and make an effort to ensure that their assets are handled fairly. However, separating couples in California may want to take steps to protect their finances.

First, a soon-to-be ex should not sign any paperwork they do not fully understand. It may be best to have a lawyer review it. This was the case for one man whose wife said he only needed to sign some paperwork that would allow her to purchase a condo with no financial obligations for him. The attorney who reviewed the documents found that he would be assuming financial responsibility for it if she did not pay. A divorcing spouse might also want to consult an attorney if they want to do something like take money out of a joint account.

Another issue that could arise is losing property after leaving the marital home. Spouses should make an inventory list of all assets, including personal property, credit cards and vehicles, and photocopy any important documents. If they are leaving the home, they should take any property with them. It is common for exes to be unable to retrieve these assets otherwise. If they cannot take it with them, they should take a photograph or video.

An attorney could also help a client protect their finances during the divorce process. Even in a high-asset divorce, couples are often able to amicably negotiate a settlement, but there are situations in which litigation may be necessary. One challenge may be that California is a community property state, and this means that property is supposed to be split equally. This does not mean all assets must be split 50/50. Therefore, spouses might be able to reach an agreement that involves each keeping assets of similar value.