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Why it's wise to file for divorce first

You know your marriage is falling apart. You've come to terms with it. Now, it just feels like you're waiting to make it official by filing for divorce.

If so, you may not want to wait. It can be beneficial to file for divorce before your spouse does.

Remember, you need to get a lot of paperwork in order. Examples include:

-- Bank statements.-- Insurance policies.-- Brokerage statements.-- Wills.-- Tax returns.-- Titles and deeds.

If you decide that you're going to file, you can spend a little bit of time gathering these documents first. This way, you know you have everything you need. There's no chance that your spouse, perhaps angered by the filing, is going to make it hard for you to get all of the paperwork.

You can also work in advance to set up funds and lines of credit. If you file, the first thing you may do is cancel your joint credit card with your spouse. You don't want him or her to rack up debt that you're obligated to pay. However, you still need access to funding since divorce can take a long time. You also may want to protect yourself financially by getting your own bank account where you can deposit paychecks.

If you wait to file, you can be left scrambling to do these types of things at the last second, while your spouse is calm and prepared. By getting everything in order first, you protect yourself and potentially make the divorce process easier and smoother than it would have been. Before you file for divorce, make sure you consider all of the steps you should take to prepare and the legal steps needed to get the case underway.

Source: Forbes, "What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of Being First To File For Divorce?," Jeff Landers, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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