When you first decide to divorce, you do so because you understand it's best for your relationship. It's not what you hoped for, but you've come to realize it'll help you get your life back in order.

Once the initial shock of divorce is out of the way, you'll turn your attention to the impact on your life. In addition to the current changes, think about the future.

Divorce can and will impact your financial situation in a number of ways. For this reason, there are five important steps you must take as soon as possible:

  • Create a property division checklist: This outlines all marital property to divide in your divorce. Don't leave anything off the list, and make sure your soon-to-be ex-spouse isn't hiding anything from the court.
  • Make note of your debts: Property division often moves to the forefront of the divorce process, but you must also focus on any debt you carry together. This commonly includes mortgage, credit cards, car loans and personal loans.
  • Review your credit report: This could impact you in many ways after your divorce, so you need to know where things stand. Upon reviewing your credit report and score, you'll have a better idea of your financial health. This has a lot to do with whether you'll qualify for a loan in the near future, such as to purchase a home.
  • Open individual accounts: You no longer want to use joint accounts, so now's the time to open accounts in your name. This includes everything from a bank account to a credit card.
  • Create a budget: Your income and expenses are likely to change after your divorce, so a budget can give you an idea of where things stand and what to expect.

These are the types of things you can do to prepare your finances for divorce. These steps may not be easy to take, but upon completion you'll realize you're in a much better place.

As the divorce process moves forward, don't let anything knock you off track. You know what you need to accomplish, so stick with your plan as you inch forward. As long as you're reasonable and have a plan for protecting your legal rights, you'll eventually find your way out the other side.

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