For many people in Illinois, the start of a new year is like turning over a new leaf. For those who have had divorce on their minds, they may finally feel ready to move forward with the process. However as it is far from uncommon for couples to maintain completely separate finances, preparation before filing the papers may be advisable as being completely unaware of a spouse’s financial matters can leave a person feeling blindsided.

In many situations where both spouses have a steady income, each person has his or her own bank account from which individual bills are paid and personal money is spent. Before divorcing, both parties can benefit from first sharing the exact amount of income and cash flow that they both deal with. Having a basic understanding of finances prior to a divorce can allow both parties the ability to plan ahead as needed.

Unfortunately, not all soon-to-be-ex spouses are willing to be open about their financial state of affairs, particularly if they feel that divorce is the next appropriate course of action to take. Without the other half of the financial information concerning an individual’s marriage, there may not be much that can be done beforehand. However, once divorce proceedings have begun, all income and debts will have to be disclosed by both parties.

A clear understanding of a couple’s financial situation can be particularly important when it comes to dividing assets. As some people in Illinois may already know, it’s not just assets and possessions that must be split up during a divorce. Any debts incurred during the course of the marriage must be divided up, and in some instances, one person may be ordered to pay a debt that his or her spouse rang up. Being aware of a marriage’s financial state before pursuing a divorce can help prepare both parties for the final outcome of the subsequent property division.

Source: Forbes, “How To Find Out About Your Spouse’s Money Habits“, Dec. 19, 2014