If you have decided to divorce your spouse you may be anxious to get it over with. While there is of course something to be said for moving on with your life, it is important that you not do anything to jeopardize your chance to secure a good financial settlement. In most cases this means slowing down and taking the time to consider several things.
The first is the importance of dividing your finances from those of your soon-to-be ex. To avoid financial liability the sooner you open your own, separate account, the better. At this time it is also a good idea to get a copy of your credit report so that you can identify any other joint accounts that need to be separated.
Second, be aware of any assets that may be missing. The best way to go about this is to make a list of current accounts, non-cash assets, start-up stock options, business interests and pensions. If you suspect things are missing, an investigator may be of assistance in making sure everything that should be, is accounted for.
In the course of paying off joint debt or other expenses related to the divorce, it may be tempting to use funds from retirement accounts. This approach should be avoided at all costs as the benefits in the short term for doing so are usually far outweighed by the negatives in the long run. That money is there so you can enjoy life in retirement and taking away from it could impact your standard of living or even force you to work longer than you otherwise would.
Working with a lawyer who understands the laws of your jurisdiction in relation to property division and spousal support is vital. Generally, the sooner you have that individual working with you, the better.