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 www.annualcreditreport.com.
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.