Preparing for property division may mean separating accounts

If you and your spouse are ending your marriage, one of the first hurdles you will face is property division.

Making sure you are well-prepared will help the process go more smoothly, and preparation may include opening separate bank accounts.

Understanding the rules in California

California is a community property state, which means that the court will divide your marital assets and debts equally. In general, you can expect a settlement that is as close as possible to a 50/50 split. However, before making the final decision, the court will consider points such as your age, your current financial situation, potential earning power, the length of your marriage, child custody responsibility and whether you signed a prenuptial agreement.

Managing assets

The more assets you have, the more complex property division will be, which is why advance preparation is so important. You must identify and place a value on marital assets that you and your spouse own. Separate assets that you owned before your marriage will still belong only to you. Both you and your spouse should have all your financial documents in order. Keep one set for yourself, and provide another to your divorce attorney.

Opening separate accounts

If you feel that financial issues may arise during the property division phase of your divorce, consider closing all joint credit card and bank accounts and opening new accounts in your own name. If there is a joint account that you wish to keep for the time being, your attorney should prepare a written agreement for you and your spouse to sign that explains the purpose for the account and how you will use the funds.

Looking toward the future

Ending a marriage is never easy, and property division can be especially difficult from both a financial and emotional standpoint. Organizational and financial preparedness will help you navigate the process so that you can look forward with confidence to the next chapter in your life.