As divorce mediators, at Westfield Mediation, LLC, we have seen that in many families, married couples are reluctant to discuss money issues. Sometimes one person handles all the financial decisions, pays the taxes and the bills. In other homes, the spouses keep most of their expenses and accounts separate, and don't really share information about their assets and liabilities.
Recently, the coronavirus has created shifts of income and expenses in many homes, inspiring articles about how both spouses need to learn more about their finances in case one partner gets sick and can't work or pay the bills. We have found that these same concepts about the importance of shared financial knowledge apply to divorcing families as well. Moreover, for divorcing couples, sharing information eliminates any suspicion of hidden assets or debts which reduces stress and helps you work together to create a fair agreement.
In divorce mediation, we help divorcing couples make sense of their financial picture. As part of that process, we go through their financial statements together to create a workable equitable plan. In divorce mediation, we tell our clients that it's important to know a few basic things about your financial situation before you get divorced.
First, where are the important documents? You should both have log-in information for all savings, investment, and retirement accounts. You will both need to know what is out there to make a fair division of your accounts and debts. Secondly, whose name is on the accounts, the mortgage, the car title, etc. Who is the beneficiary of all your investments and life insurance policies? In our experience, starting with some simple fact-gathering upfront makes the process much easier and productive for everyone, saving time and money, and minimizing arguments down the road.