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3 tips to protect yourself financially in a divorce

If you had to, could you list off your family's income, assets and debts with a reasonable certainty?

If the answer is, "No," then you need to educate yourself financially before you initiate your divorce. Many times, high-profile couples have prospered together with one spouse taking the financial reigns and the other handling the home and children. When a divorce happens, the less financially-educated spouse often has no idea what sort of stock options the couple holds, what other investments they have or even what banks they're spread around. Sometimes they aren't even aware of property they own because the spouse handling the income bought it as an investment and didn't bother telling them.

Here are three things that you need to do as quickly as possible if you suspect a divorce is on the horizon:

-- Document everything. Get copies of every tax return, deed, bank record, bill or brokerage statements. Get your insurance paperwork together, including inventories of the household goods. Copies of your spouse's business records for the last several years are also valuable -- especially if you think the business may be worth more than he or she is letting on.

2. Put money aside. You are going to need more money than you realize -- part of it will go to attorney fees, but part of it will go to just ordinary living expenses and you probably don't really know what those are yet. You may have additional expenses like therapy bills, new furniture for your new place and a new wardrobe if you're going back to work. It adds up quickly, so start putting funds away now.

3. Get a good adviser -- or two. You need to find an attorney and a financial adviser you can trust who can help you understand all the paperwork you've amassed. That's the only way to ensure that you'll get a fair share of the marital assets.

If you aren't sure if you know what an equitable distribution of your marital wealth would look like, consider contacting an attorney familiar with high-asset divorces for assistance soon. For more information on our firm approaches that topic, please visit our page.

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