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Divorce: Initial To-Do Checklist

Much of the work of a divorce involves separating your joint finances and assets. Below are some steps that can help you get started:

1. Cash and Credit

▢ If you don't have one, open a separate checking account. It's important that you

have this account, even if the balance is small. You need your own financial system.

▢ Set aside some cash in a safe place. Sometimes in divorces, the bank accounts and

credit cards are frozen.

▢ Close your joint credit card accounts and obtain a credit card in your own name.

Any debt on the joint card can be transferred to the individuals cards. Alternatively,

tell your credit card company that no new charges can be made on the joint card.

Watch your credit report to make sure that your spouse does not obtain a new joint

card (or apply for a joint loan.)

2. Saving and Investments

▢ Freeze all your joint investment accounts so cash cannot be withdrawn and loans

cannot be placed against them. Obtain statements for all the accounts.

▢ If your spouse has a retirement account, ask the retirement plan administrator for

its current statement and a copy of the plan description.

3. Personal

▢ Rent a post office box and open a new email account to ensure that your

communication are private.

▢ Change the passwords for your ATM cards, bank accounts, online stores, social

networks, and email accounts.

4. Career

▢ If you have job, tell your boss you are going through a divorce. Offer to make up the

hours you will miss.

▢ If you don't have one, start planning to get one. Update your resume, research job

prospects, and begin applying.

5. Insurance

▢ If you depend on your spouse's health insurance, investigate the cost and

availability of continuing coverage. Compare separately obtained insurance.

▢ Update your beneficiaries on any life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

▢ Update your estate planning documents to reflect your new situation and make

sure your intentions and wishes are clearly reflected.

6. Records

▢ Make a detailed list of all of the property in your home. Append photos of the more

valuable items, enabling the date stamp on your camera or phone.

▢ Gather and organize information about what you own and owe. You will need

financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, insurance policies, and

investment account statements.

▢ Start thinking about which assets you want to keep and which you are willing to give


▢ Write for your attorney a concise narrative about your marriage, and include the

date you got married, your children's birth dates, any previous separations, when

various assets (like the marital home) were acquired, and separate property that

either you or your spouse inherited you acquired before the marriage.

Click below if you would like to download a copy of this checklist.

Smith Dominguez Divorce Checklist
Download PDF • 269KB

If you are looking for guidance on navigating the divorce process, we would be happy to help. You can email us at or set up a consultation here.


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