Create A Financial Inventory
California and Texas are community property states, meaning that in general, all money earned, and all property acquired during the marriage are seen as belonging to both spouses equally. Similarly, all debts incurred during the marriage are joint debts.
Separate property, on the other hand, consists of all assets and liabilities each house had prior to the marriage or after the date of separation. Separate property also includes assets received as a gift or inheritance from a third party. It is crucial to assess what is potentially community and what is potentially separate property so that you can plan for your future.
Colorado is a marital property state which has different guidelines than community property states. A Colorado divorce court will divide the marital property equitably (almost always means equally), based upon the value on the day of dissolution unless the parties agree otherwise.
Gathering important financial documents can make the process more efficient when you are ready to proceed and can help you understand what assets and debts are at issue. It is imperative that you have an accurate picture of your assets, liabilities, and overall financial health, especially if your spouse was the one responsible for managing marital finances.
Look at past tax returns, bank statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, credit card statements, family trusts, and stock grants, just to name a few.
If your spouse owns his/her own business, you want to be able to assess as much information as possible relating to the finances of his/her business.
Consider Your Potential and Resources
If you are the stay at home parent or the spouse with limited access to financial resources, make sure that you have a way to pay for your expenses for at least the next three months. It’s a good idea to apply for your credit card too if you do not already have one.
Many spouses become spiteful when a divorce starts and may cut off the other spouse’s access to community funds and credit cards. Although your attorney can help you obtain spousal and child support, it will take some time to do so. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the resources to cover your living expenses for emergencies and to pay for an attorney if you decide to retain one.