Staying organized and preparing in advance makes going through the divorce process less stressful. To file a divorce in California, you need to submit two forms: a petition and a summons. In some situations, you might require financial assistance from your spouse during the process. It’s possible to request a temporary order if you qualify.
1. Assets and liabilities inventory
Before you negotiate who gets what, you need to know precisely what your assets and liabilities are. California family law holds both you and your spouse responsible for debts regardless of whose name it’s in. Some divorcing couples strive to pay off all or as much of their debts as possible before finalizing the divorce.
California is a community property state, so all assets from the marriage are marital property. If you had an asset going into the marriage, then it’s your personal property. Capital gains on pre-existing assets, however, are marital assets.
You might want to conduct a forensic investigation to check that your spouse didn’t hide assets from you during the marriage. The court isn’t likely to do this on its own.
2. Financial documents
You need copies of all financial documents to prove what your assets and liabilities are. Key documents to gather include credit card statements, mortgages, loans, tax returns, insurance and retirement accounts.
3. New bank account
If you don’t feel comfortable continuing to use a joint bank account, you may open a new bank account where you deposit your paycheck. However, it’s important to remember that California still considers everything marital property until you finalize your divorce. Be aware that the state also initiates an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order on joint bank accounts when someone files for divorce. You can’t legally empty the joint bank account of your share.
Sorting out your finances is one of the most important aspects of preparing for a divorce. Lawyers need to view your financial documents to advise you. The court also must know what it has to divide between you and your spouse.