Step 2A – Determine what you own

We are on Step 2 in our series regarding preparing for divorce. Step 2 involves making an accounting of the family finances. This includes determining what you own.

For some, that may be easy. If you have a good handle on the family finances, then you are a step ahead. If not, then it is time to do your homework.

Many of the assets of the marriage will be obvious – the home in which you reside, financial accounts, vehicles, recreational vehicles, etc. Others may not be so obvious – these include things like artwork, bearer bonds, a spouses deferred compensation, proceeds from a pending lawsuit, etc.

Then there is the possibility that your spouse is hiding assets (this is more likely if they are the ones initiating the divorce or if divorce has been discussed previously).

Review all possible assets. Attempt to gather documentation regardign each one including present value, where possible. Especially look for any recent appraisals of real estate.

If your lawyer is charging you hourly, then any of this information that you are able to gather should save you a lot of money. If there are documents you are not able to obtain, your lawyer may have to get them through the discovery process.

Step 2B – Determine what you owe

We are still on Step 2 of Preparing for a Divorce. Step 2 is “make an accounting of the family finances.” We’ve discussed determining what you own. This step requires you to determine what you owe.

You will need to make a determination of all of the debts of the marriage without respect to the name in which it was incurred.The Judgment of Divorce will need to address who is responsible for the debt whether it is in your name, your spouse’s name, or joint names.

I recommend that each of my clients obtain a copy of their credit report. This allows you to make sure that you know of all of the debt that is in your name. It is not unusual for a spouse to have incurred debt in the other spouse’s name without their knowledge. If that has happened, you need to know it before the divorce is final, not after.

There are many ways to obtain a copy of your credit report. You can request a free copy once per year at

Once you see what all debt exists, obtain copies of the statements on these accounts to determine the balances. You may also need the statements if your spouse has made large or inappropriate purchases on the cards.

If you cannot find credit card statements on each of the accounts, contact the credit card company directly and request they send them to you. You may want to check their websites as you might be able to make the request online. I normally want my clients to get a minimum of 12 months worth. Check with your lawyer to see what he recommends.

Jim Jeffries | Mobile & Baldwin County Attorney

Jim currently is a member of the Alabama Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforcement as well as a statewide committee that has been tasked with reviewing and making recommendations for possible revisions to Alabama's version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Jim was also recently appointed by the President of the Alabama State Bar Association to a serve on a committee whose purpose is to review and comment on Alabama legislation regarding joint custody for a proposal to the Alabama Legislature for possible changes in this legislation.

Jim has attained a Peer Review Ranking of AV from Martindale-Hubbell® - The highest an attorney can be ranked by his peers.

He continues to lecture to attorneys across the state regarding family law issues.

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Jeffries Family Law, LLC

Divorce Attorney | Child Support & Child Custody Attorney | Prenuptial Law Attorney

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