Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may want to consider marriage counseling. If you have one, you may want to chat with your priest or rabbi. If you do not want to end the marriage, you should try talking with your spouse to determine if there is anything that can be done to salvage the marriage.
If there is no possibility of salvaging the marriage and you are the spouse who was not in charge of the financials, it would behoove you to collect all of the most recent tax returns and financial documents, including bank statements, credit card statements, income statements, and all financial records concerning your spouse’s income and business records (if applicable) so that you know exactly where you stand when you file for divorce.
A wise man once said, “One of the most important things you can know about a situation is where you stand, because then you can act accordingly.” By having a detailed understanding of your and your spouse’s financial situation, you can know where you stand financially and then you and your lawyer can act accordingly.
The next thing you should do is consult with a lawyer prior to informing your spouse. This way you and your lawyer can determine a plan of action. Once you inform your spouse that you want a divorce, they may conceal the assets or community books and records, but if you have obtained a copy of all of the books and records prior to informing them of your decision, you will be in a better position to address any chicanery by your spouse.
With the help of an attorney, you may explore the options of hiring a forensic accountant who could assist in analyzing the family expenses, income, and overall community assets.
Megan E. Green is an associate at Feinberg Mindel Brandt & Klein in Los Angeles. Her practice is devoted to the area of family law.