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Getting organized financially before a divorce

A person in Massachusetts who is getting a divorce can prepare financially ahead of time by gathering documents such as bank statements, information on loans, investment paperwork and tax returns. Someone who manages household expenses might already have a sense of the overall family budget, but a person who does not may need to become more aware of that budget. All of this information may be useful in determining how property is divided in the divorce.

Legal and financial professionals may be better able to offer advice than friends and family. While others may offer advice with good intentions, that advice may not apply if it is from a different situation.

Legal advice might also be necessary if one spouse withholds financial information or is resistant in some other way. In some situations, a divorce might start out amicably and encounter problems later in the process. However, people should not make changes to wills, beneficiary designations or other documents while the divorce is ongoing. This could cause legal problems. Major financial decisions or spending should be avoided as well.

With a detailed understanding of their financial situation, a couple might decide they want to work with their respective attorneys and negotiate property division. Mediation might be helpful if the couple are unable to resolve some conflicts. Its focus is on reaching a cooperative solution. However, it may not be possible to resolve a divorce dispute in mediation, and if this happens, litigation may be necessary. One disadvantage of litigation is that it is can be an adversarial approach to reaching a divorce settlement. One or both people may be unhappy with the judge's decision, but litigation might be the only option if one spouse refuse to cooperate or if there are issues such as domestic abuse.

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