As soon as you know divorce is inevitable, begin tracking your household income and expenses. This will not only help build a budget post-divorce, but it is also crucial for your attorney and later the judge in deciding how to split assets and debts, and whether to award spousal or child support.
If you've already been tracking as part of your budget, even better: You have a record of past months and years. If not, start now, and include household bills, food, clothing, entertainment, home maintenance, transportation, child care and anything else that you spend money on. Use your bank and credit card statements to estimate spending from past years. Next, project future expenses.
"Look beyond the normal monthly expenses and include things like your holiday trips, vacations, and seemingly 'one-time' expenses like replacing the dishwasher," says Avani Ramnani, a certified divorce financial advisor with Francis Financial in New York City. Use previous years as a guide, but remember, circumstances change. For example, if you have children, you'll transition from spending on child care to spending on after-school activities and eventually car insurance and college tuition.