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Planning for your divorce may seem unnecessary but it is actually quite the opposite. If you know you are going to file for divorce or that your spouse is going to serve you with divorce papers, the best thing you can do is to create a plan.

Proper planning takes time and knowledge of the divorce process can help you understand what steps to take now before you file for divorce. California is a community property state, which means that any property and debts acquired during the course of the marriage are considered “community property” and will be divided between both spouses.

Steps to take before you file for divorce

In addition to property division issues, child custody, child support and spousal support also need to be considered during the planning process. What steps should you take to help you prepare for your divorce? Listed below are divorce planning tips to help you get started:

  • Collect financial documents, including bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account statements and tax returns. Make copies and keep these documents in a safe place.
  • Learn about your credit. You can request a free copy of your credit report once a year. Take advantage of this and be sure to report any errors or misinformation.
  • Consider opening bank accounts and credit cards in your name. This will allow you to have your own funds now and after the divorce.
  • Review your joint credit card account and other joint bank accounts. This will help your legal team determine if there are any hidden assets or underreporting of income during the divorce process.
  • Hire an attorney. This is one of the most important steps to take. An attorney can help you navigate the divorce process and assess your specific situation so you can create a plan that will protect your best interests.

The decision to get divorced is difficult. Planning for your divorce may seem cold or unneeded, but taking steps now will help you protect yourself and make the process go smoother in the end. Do not wait to contact an experienced lawyer if you are considering divorce. Having a plan in place and skilled representation will put you on the best path for a successful future.