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Things to do before divorce

Preparing for a divorce takes time—it’s never easy and can consume enormous amounts of time and energy. Be prepared for the process to take longer than you want it to, but getting organized ahead of time can help you move through the process more smoothly. 
 
Going through a divorce can feel like an endless list of tasks and to-dos. Like all big projects, it can be helpful to break things down into digestible pieces. Working through the tasks methodically and keeping deadlines in mind can help you stay on track. 
 
Here are some things to consider as you’re separating, and as you start the divorce process. 

First steps: Consider these actions before starting a divorce

  • Ensure you can access your financial account information, both physically and online 
  • Change your website passwords 
  • Change your PINs 
  • Change your mobile phone number 
  • Check your credit report 
  • Back up or duplicate key documents 
  • Back up or make copies of photos 
  • Consider a safe deposit box 
  • Ensure your mail is secure (consider a PO box) 
  • Establish credit in your name 
  • Remove and secure items with sentimental value 
  • Remove and secure valuables 

Protecting your money during a divorce

The first step in protecting your money is knowing what you have: Complete a net worth statement to outline all the assets, liabilities, income, and expenses associated with the marriage.  
 
Remember that life doesn’t freeze during divorce—you’ll still have to manage your personal budget and bills. To stay on top of costs, keep every receipt, track your day-to-day expenses, and decide how expenses will be paid and by whom.  
 
If you have kids, make sure you have a plan for how their expenses will be covered before support payments are made official. Even after the divorce is final, you may need to plan for how larger expenses are paid, for example college or your child’s first car. 

Consider interim living arrangements during a divorce

  • Evaluate all of your options. Can you stay with friends or family or in a temporary living situation like a condo or apartment? 
  • Transfer your services. You may need to set up services such as utilities, cable, and internet services at your temporary residence. 
  • Practical updates. Remember to forward your mail and officially change your address with your service providers and subscriptions. 

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Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.

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