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Planning to file for divorce? Do these four things now.

Whether you contemplate the decision for days or years, filing for divorce is never easy. Unfortunately, at times, strong emotions can cloud and interfere with your good judgment and ability to think clearly and rationally.

If you are planning to file for divorce, it's important to take steps to prepare prior to doing so. Once a spouse is notified of a filing and proceedings begin, there is often a shift in dynamics and even spouses who were previously on good terms may discover that a husband or wife is racking up credit card debt or attempting to hide assets.

Protect Your Best Interests In A Divorce

Take the following four steps prior to filing for divorce:

1. Obtain a credit card - The card should be in your name only and used to make purchases that are necessary and related to your divorce. Additionally, if you have one or more joint credit cards, it may be wise to freeze the account(s) to prevent a spouse from racking up debt.

2. Sign up for electronic statements - For all new and existing financial accounts, it's wise to sign up for electronic statements and to change your password. Doing so will prevent a soon-to-be ex-spouse from opening your mail and accessing your personal account information.

3. Track expenses - At some point during divorce proceedings, you will be asked to present information related to your living expenses. Having credit card and bank statements as hard proof can increase your chances of securing a settlement and/or spousal support amount needed to maintain your standard of living.

4. Take inventory of personal items - From home furnishings and jewelry to pieces of art and automobiles, personal items of value and sentiment have a way of mysteriously disappearing during divorces. It's important, therefore, to make an inventory list of these items complete with photographic evidence.

These are just a few of the steps that are important to take that can provide you with an advantage going into a divorce. A divorce attorney can answer questions and provide additional and helpful advice even before proceedings formally begin.

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