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Divorce requires financial and emotional preparation

If you're considering starting the new year by exiting your marriage, you aren't alone. Attorneys estimate that divorce filings rise anywhere from a quarter to a third each January.

You may not want to spend your holidays gathering documents and preparing for this huge step. However, it's important to take some steps as well as prepare yourself emotionally. One attorney recommends not just hiring an attorney, but having a financial planner and a psychologist -- or at least a good support group -- at the ready as well.

Even in community property states like Louisiana, it's important to take stock of your assets, both individual and marital. This means gathering account information, insurance policies and potentially Social Security benefits information. Your attorney can advise you about what type of information you should have ready.

You'll also want to look at the tax impacts of your divorce and the timing of it as well as other financial ramifications of when the divorce filing is made. For example, people expecting a large bonus in the upcoming year sometimes choose to get their filing in ahead of that so that it doesn't count as part of the marital assets that will need to be split with their spouse.

Not everyone who considers divorce or even does some due diligence in preparation for filing for divorce goes through with it. In some cases, they decide to wait for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they stay together. While the holidays can exacerbate marital tensions, they can also bring couples closer together as well. Whatever your decision, taking a good look at your financial situation as well as your emotions can still be a good way to start the new year.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first," Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 12, 2015

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