Getting a divorce is typically not a decision you make easily. Many couples will try counseling or marriage therapy before calling it quits. In some cases, one spouse will spring the divorce on the other without prior notice. But even in these situations, the spouse initiating the separation has spent time considering whether to end the marriage.
In you are in the consideration phase, and believe that the end of your marriage is unavoidable, you should take some preemptive steps to ensure that you won’t be left high and dry when you’re on your own.
It’s important to be conservative with your finances. Separation and divorce can cause financial strain. If at all possible, try to set aside a bit of money to draw upon while you are going through the divorce.
If you actually need to make a major purchase, such as a car, do it before you file. Once you do, California law imposes an automatic temporary restraining order (ATROS). Among other things, these orders compel you and your spouse to inform the other of any proposed large purchases at least five days in advance. You will also be required to provide the court with an accounting.
Start gathering information now about your spouse’s income. Both of you are required to complete a financial disclosure when you seek a divorce. If you believe that your spouse is trying to minimize wages, income, and assets, proof is required. Look for that documentation in the months leading up to your initial divorce filing. Good sources for this purpose are recent loan and credit card applications. People tend to include as much of their income as possible when applying for credit.
Divorce is a life-changing event. You want to be as prepared as possible for all these momentous changes with a pragmatic assessment of your circumstances.
Evaluate how your financial situation will change when you and your spouse are maintaining separate households. Create a realistic budget to meet your own expenses and obligations once you’re on your own.
If your spouse is the primary breadwinner, don’t rely on a generous alimony settlement to replace that income. Assess your job skills and take steps to get yourself back on the job market. This could mean ramping up your resume and online professional profiles, engaging in job training, or even enrolling in school.
California is a community property state. It’s imperative that you identify community property vs. separate property
Inventory all of your assets and obtain property valuations for big ticket items.
If you own separate property, gather all the proof and documentation that you have to substantiate this claim.
This preparation will be helpful to your California divorce attorney when you are ready to file. Discuss any questions and concerns you may have with your lawyer to determine what other steps you need to take before filing.
Sources: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fam&group=02001-03000&file=2040-2041, http://www.mccoyfatula.com/blog/2016/08/community-vs-separate-property-in-california.shtml, http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/money/40-secrets-only-divorce-attorneys-know