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Managing personal finances before property division begins

Although most people who enter marriage here in Tennessee imagine theirs will withstand the test of time, the truth is that many of them fall apart despite the best efforts of one or both spouses to keep them alive. One major issue that both parties must then deal with, especially if they have been together many years, is asset division.

Anyone on the edge of divorce should remember that they will be living with the results of their financial decisions for years, so planning ahead is critical.

According to one financial professional, the first step in avoiding mistakes is to separate finances before as soon as possible. Close all joint checking, savings, money market and credit card accounts - or at least put cards in the sole name of one or the other spouse. Personal accounts and lines of credit can also help build personal credit scores, so establish these as soon as possible.

Finding out if a spouse is using personal information to create separate financial accounts is also important in preventing one spouse from accumulating debt without the other knowing about it.

Every married couple has assets, income and liabilities that are unique to that couple, so find out what those are. If one spouse does not disclose finances completely, it becomes important to check that person's financial records going back at least 6 months.

In addition, check insurance and job benefit plans. Spouses should get equitable, not necessarily 50-50, shares of these marital assets, too. Finally, resist the temptation to hide assets or be difficult. A prolonged divorce just increases emotional conflict and could have a financial cost later.

These matters can easily become complicated and emotions can take a toll on decision making, so consulting a lawyer can help both parties make the best decisions possible and protect their interests during property division.

Source: ABC News, "How to Protect Your Finances in a Divorce," A.J. Smith, March 31, 2014

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
503 Madison St.
Clarksville, TN 37040

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