The first step people in California should take when getting a divorce is making a budget and understanding what their finances will be like in the months ahead. The person should also set aside money for the divorce. This budget can be revised for the longer term once the person has a better idea of expenses. The next step is to look at shared property and how it might be divided in the divorce.
There are several things to consider in this division of property. For example, in order to remove one spouse from the title and mortgage of the house, a refinance might be necessary. A spouse who keeps the home should also be able to afford associated expenses. For some, the house and other assets may not be liquid enough. People should also consider whether retirement accounts or other assets come with tax obligations and how this affects their value. If debt cannot be paid off before the divorce is final, one spouse may end up with the legal responsibility to pay it even though both spouses incurred it.
Numerous documents and accounts may need to be updated once the divorce is final. Joint accounts should be closed, and spouses should be removed as authorized users on accounts. Estate plans may need to be revised.
While these can seem like overwhelming tasks for a person who is already struggling with the emotional impact of a divorce, an attorney may be able to help by staying focused on the practical financial issues. This can be important since some people make poor decisions during divorce negotiations if they feel angry or guilty about the divorce. Going into negotiations with a plan can be helpful. However, if one spouse is uncooperative, it may be necessary to have a judge decide on property division in litigation.