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A pre divorce checklist makes life simpler and smoother

A pre divorce checklist and pre divorce planning can make your case simpler and smoother. It can also help make sure you protect yourself and do not make a bad situation worse unintentionally.

Doing your own research can save you legal fees, but it’s not a substitute for advice from a good attorney. Here are some tips you may find helpful:

COMMUNITY ASSETS: Don’t sell, hide or give away things that are – or might be – community property. If you don’t know what is or isn’t defined as community property, talk to an attorney. You may want to cancel credit cards in joint names to assure you, or the community, don’t get stuck with unexpected debts. Make a list of everything you, your spouse, or the two of you together own. List when it was acquired and from what source (i.e. gift, inheritance, purchased with earnings, owned prior to marriage, etc.)

DEBTS: Rule of thumb: no major purchases (car, boat, expensive jewelry, etc.) unless in case of emergency. Cash and other liquid assets are better. List all debts, including the names and addresses of the creditors, amounts owed, when incurred, and amount of monthly payment.

WORK: If you’re working, don’t quit. You can actually be penalized for that in a San Diego divorce (or anywhere else in California, for that matter.)

INSURANCE: Review and copy all insurance policies and any appraisals prepared on property.

AUTOMOBILE: Make sure the car you drive away from the relationship is registered either to you alone or to you and your spouse.

GIFTS (to you) AND INHERITANCES: Keep these separate from community property. If you “commingle” gifts and inheritances with community property, say, by depositing it into a joint account, it can be difficult or even impossible to figure out later how much of it, if any, that you don’t have to share with the other spouse.

TAX RETURNS: Review and copy tax returns for the past several years. You may want to discuss any questionable items with an accountant (ideally this conversation should take place before you decide to question your spouse about these items).

RESIDENCE: DO NOT MOVE OUT of the family residence without first discussing it with your lawyer.

INHERITANCES: Keep all inheritances separate from the marital estate. Do not put an inheritance into joint names and do not use proceeds to pay for family expenses or purchases or to pay down debts.

LIABILITY: Prepare a complete list of all debts or obligations including credit cards, notes, mortgages, etc. Identify each debt, when it was incurred and the reason for the debt. Identify who has been making payments on them, as well as the monthly or annual amounts.
INSURANCE: Review and make copies of all insurance policies relating to the matrimonial residence furnishings, or other assets. This should include any jewelry, silverware, or other valuable. Make copies of any appraisal that have been prepared. These documents will be useful if you file for divorce in San Diego

SIGNATURE: Do not sign any financial statements if blank. Know what you are signing and always keep a copy.

401k and IRAS: Obtain copies of your plan and your spouse’s also with any yearly statements and determine when they vest and benefits become payable, ask for the plan booklets and latest contribution statements. These documents will be useful if you file for divorce in San Diego.

WILLS AND TRUSTS: Obtain copies of any wills or trust agreements and be involved in any estate planning

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