When you’re going through a divorce, a lot can slip through the cracks. Emotions and financial issues get intertwined, and that can lead to some very unfortunate outcomes – especially when kids are involved.

The best thing you can do for yourself is be prepared for the settlement talks. That means collecting a lot of financial information. Whoever is handling your divorce will be asking for a lot of paperwork – but some of that will be based on what you’ve revealed about your financial situation.

And when you’re upset…angry…depressed…stressed…and freaking out, it’s hard to remember everything and easy for things to fall through the cracks.

Breaking your financial picture into categories can help you get organized so nothing gets missed. The main categories

  • What you own
  • What you owe
  • Every joint account you have
  • Every separate account each of you has
  • Business records

You can find a checklist of the basic information you need to gather here. Your lawyer may ask for additional information – give her whatever she needs to get you a fair settlement.

And before you agree to the final settlement, make sure you know

  • The tax impact of your divorce
  • What happens to the retirement funds
  • How child support and alimony will be handled
  • How college costs will be divided
  • Who will cover the children’s health insurance and medical bills
  • Life insurance responsibilities
  • Which debts you could be held responsible for
  • Whether there are any hidden assets

All of this can be exhausting and stressful, so take it slow, and ask for help when you need it. You don’t want to overlook any crucial paperwork during or after your divorce (like closing every joint account) that could end up sinking your future finances.