If you and your spouse have decided it is time to end your marriage, there are several things you may want to do before filing the paperwork with a New York court. The financial and legal aspects of divorce are often complex, but preparing for certain things ahead of time may help reduce the overall stress of the process. Creating a pre-divorce plan may allow you to get a comprehensive overview of how your life will look after divorce, and the information may be helpful during child support and custody negotiations.

State laws play a significant role in how divorce affects each spouse’s finances. New York’s marital property laws may determine whether you get to keep your home or car and if you have to pay alimony or child support. According to FindLaw, New York practices “equitable division” rather than “community property” laws. This means that a judge has the authority to determine how to divide property between both spouses fairly. Preparing all your financial paperwork on assets, income, debts and inheritances before filing for divorce may make the process go more smoothly.

There are other possible pre-divorce actions you could consider taking. For example, some experts recommend opening a personal post office box. This may make it easier to collect all your important legal documents and maintain your privacy. Another area to consider is your personal health care. If you have a living will or advance directive that gives your spouse the right to make medical decisions for you, it may be good to appoint a new agent. A divorce may also affect your long-term estate planning. Some experts recommend using the pre-divorce stage to figure out if you need to make changes to your retirement savings plan or your will.

This information on pre-divorce preparations is intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.