1. Consult with a Mediator and an attorney in your particular province.
2. Open your own bank account in your name only.
3. Visit your Branch Manager of your bank and explain your situation. If at all possible attend this meeting with your partner. Joint accounts and lines of credit can be split with mutual consent if both in attendance.
4. Close all joint accounts. Don’t freeze Bank Accounts. You may still need to access the money to pay bills. Split the money from joint accounts equally. Get confirmation in writing from your spouse or attorneys.
5. Make copies of all the financial documents that show your true debts, assets, and expenses, including household and credit card bills, bank records, expenses for the children – every penny you spend to live month to month.
6. Start keeping track of all debts incurred and money paid to each other after the date of separation. This includes money spent on joint bills, improvements to the home, moving expenses, children, insurance premiums – everything that could pertain to the two of you. If you decide to pay support to your spouse while you are working things out, make sure that all these sums are documented and that you have an agreement in writing as to what these funds are for. If you put this in writing these payments may be tax-deductible, although they will be considered taxable income to the spouse receiving support.
7. See a tax specialist to decide whether you are going to file your taxes jointly or separately.
8. Sit down and figure out what you are worth as a couple. First determine the worth of everything you own together – household furnishings, real estate, cars, everything. You can do this by hiring appraisers or by getting estimates from real estate agents. It is essential, too, that you work with a tax specialist who can inform you of the tax consequences of every move you make.
9. Gather documentation about all your assets – any investments, retirement plans, bonds, mutual funds, savings or money market accounts, etc. In addition, stock options which are given to employees at great discounts but may not be exercised until years later. If your spouse has any stock options, you must see an attorney at once. A stock option that you hold today should be considered a joint asset when it is able to be exercised, however many years down the road.
10. After you determine what you have in assets as well as your expenses and income, try to sit down with your spouse and see if you can work out something that is equitable. Don’t do this before you have all your documentation because you can not negotiate without all the facts, and don’t agree to anything without consulting an attorney. Mediation clients must obtain independent legal advice to make their Separation legal and enforceable.
The role of the Financial Divorce Specialist (FDS) during the separation and divorce process is to provide financial information specific to choices for the individual's situation. This insight of options takes into account the current income, expenses, assets, liabilities, tax situation of the divorcing parties. It is then possible to model alternative separation options showing the long term financial effects on the parties. The Financial Divorce Specialist provides an objective view in an emotional situation.
The Financial Divorce Specialist can enter into the process of divorce at one of many points. At the beginning to help prepare the financial statements that accompany the divorce application or reply. Once an initial settlement is offered an FDS can evaluate this offer, looking at the short and long term consequences of the proposal.
Through the use of exclusive, specialized software, settlement options are developed with alternatives that provide the necessary information for both parties. As a part of the services provided to the client and their legal team, a written report showing the possible results of each choice is necessary.
A Financial Divorce Specialist provides services on an hourly basis and can be hired by either the individual, the couple or by legal counsel.