As you prepare to meet with your attorney or sit down for the "talk" with your soon-to-be ex, you will need to have all your ducks in a row, figuratively speaking. As a married couple, you are sure to have assets, debt, and liabilities together; find out what they are.

Ignoring them won't make them go away. Deal with these details now so you can make a clean break and save yourself financial headaches down the road.

Do your homework if you aren't sure where you stand financially. Even if accounts aren't in your name, you may still be liable. This is often where things get ugly as you try to decide who gets what and who pays what-- you want to come out on top, or at least even.

For those of you who have never been involved in the family's finances, here is a crash course on the lingo, some definitions, and what you want to look out for.

Assets.  Any property or object of value that one possesses, usually considered as applicable to the payment of one's debts.


Examples include:

  • Home equity
  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Investment or savings accounts

So now we have a definition of assets and a few examples. Make your list of applicable assets and be prepared to separate all joint accounts. Investment accounts should be handled with care. Be sure to change beneficiary designations, as these will override what is written in a will. Missing this step could allow your ex to end up with assets you did not intend for them to have.

Debts.  Money that one person or entity owes or is required to pay to another, generally as a result of a loan or other financial transaction.

Examples include:

  • Mortgage
  • Car payment
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Medical bills

Debt can be an ugly word and can cause many a dispute both during marriage and when you have reached the point of divorce. Find out what is owed and to whom. While assets are most likely divided evenly, so are debts; be prepared to take on some of this burden.

Again, you will want to separate all accounts to ensure your responsibility for things in your name alone. If you are found liable for joint debts that can't be separated before the divorce is final, then make it a top priority to get your name removed from as many joint-debt accounts as possible.   

Make sure to review your credit reports 3-6 months after the divorce is finalized and correct any errors you may find.

Liabilities.  An obligation, debt, or responsibility owed to someone. 

Examples include:

  • Taxes
  • Debt interest
  • Mortgage Payments

Similar to debt, liabilities are something that will be owed in the future. When preparing your divorce paperwork, make sure to include what will be done with joint taxes, including federal, state, local, property, and potentially others.

Assets, debts, and liabilities should be carefully examined and dealt with prior to signing your divorce paperwork. These are items that are often missed in the "heat of the moment" and require close attention before signing anything.

If you are peacefully divorcing without attorney involvement, do yourself a favor and make sure to review these "financial details" carefully and follow-up after the divorce is final. Failure to do so may cause unintended consequences that can come back to haunt you!

Have you been through a divorce and missed a "financial detail?" How did you get through it? Please share with us in the comments.

Related Posts:

5 Smart Financial Move to Make After Divorce

Making 'Cents' for Your Children When Divorced

Consider Your Options With Divorce

Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor working in our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne. Suzanne writes for our Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. Ask her questions, share your story or just follow Suzanne on her journey as she navigates dealing with divorce, debt, and finances. Suzanne is also very active on Twitter and you can follow her on one of these two accounts: ADivorcedMom and Ask CareOne where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check.

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