Put all your papers in order quickly. Make a list of your joint assets and debts. You’ll need records of your bank, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), and pension savings, and any investment account statements. You’ll also need your will, tax returns, credit card records, mortgage papers and insurance policies.
If you have children, decide about child support and custody. Make sure you get legal advice on this matter. The rules you have to follow are set by the province where the paying parent lives. If you and your ex-spouse can’t agree, a court will decide for you.
Estimate how much money you will need for the next six to 12 months. If you have cash, keep it where you can easily get it. If you have joint accounts, split the money evenly, close the old accounts, and open a new account in your name only.
Stay on top of your bills. If you don’t, the interest charges can really add up. You may also get a bad credit history, which means you may be unable to borrow more when you really need it.
Pay off your credit cards and other debts. Once you and your ex-spouse have a separation agreement, you will divide your assets and debts. Then you can pay off your joint credit cards, and either close them down or transfer them to your name only.
Make sure you have your own credit card before you close any joint ones. Also, check your credit report within three months of your divorce so you can clean up any errors. For instance, make sure all joint loans and credit cards are shut down.
In Canada, to check your credit report, you have a choice of three major credit bureaus:
Don’t make any big financial decisions right away. Avoid making big purchases or big investment decisions until you and your ex-spouse have divided your assets and debts. Give yourself time to decide what’s best for you and your family, and be sure to get professional advice if you need it.
Update your will. You’ll probably do this as you put together your divorce agreement. It’s important that you protect your children in case something happens to you. Make sure you get legal advice to put everything in order.