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Essential financial planning steps for divorce

Pennsylvania law will guide many aspects of a divorce, especially if the former spouses cannot reach an agreement out of court. Because of the substantial financial changes that could result when a marriage comes to an end, legal and financial professionals advise their clients to evaluate their finances before filing. This process would include tracking current income and expenses and taking the time to envision how a budget would work post divorce. This information about meeting daily household needs could be important to the determination of the divorce settlement, including child or spousal support.

Divorce planning also entails collecting financial records. In addition to tax returns, a person needs to organize statements for checking, savings, retirement and investing accounts. Credit card statements, documentation for other loans and payroll records need to be included. This process can become contentious if one spouse managed the finances and does not want to cooperate. An attorney might need to ask for a court order to obtain withheld documents. Certified divorce financial analysts offer assistance to people trying to unravel their marital finances. A CDFA could evaluate a proposed divorce settlement and offer insights into its future impact on an individual's financial situation.

An attorney could also play a role in a high-asset divorce. Pennsylvania follows the principle of equitable distribution when it comes to the division of marital assets and debts. A court will make such a determination on the basis of what it deems to be fair. However, this might not satisfy either party, and thus the estranged spouses might want to have the help of their respective attorneys in negotiating a settlement.

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