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January known as 'divorce month'

Even though some Missouri couples appear to be portraits of matrimonial bliss during the holidays, the state's divorce lawyers know the new year brings an annual event: a spike in the number of new divorce filings. Many spouses in unhappy marriages resolve to divorce at some point in the previous year but bide their time, hoping to spend one last holiday as a family.

Property division is one issue that can become contentious during the divorce process. Both parties may think they are seeking an equitable division of their properties, bank accounts, business assets and retirement plans. However, emotional attachments and entrenched bargaining positions can often mean that complicated strategies are needed to resolve differences. For those considering divorce, there are a few points to consider before starting the process.

First, talk about your financial issues and find agreement on what the common assets are and what is considered personal property. List all assets and then categorize them as marital or non-marital property. Gather copies of checking and savings accounts, tax returns, credit card statements, investment accounts and retirement plans. Knowing the actual state of finances will better prepare both parties as they head toward divorce.

Second, prepare for life after divorce by budgeting. Be ready for the financial ramifications of any split. Sometimes, a party will end up with far less than what he or she had before the divorce.

Third, remember to stay cool, calm and collected during negotiations. Avoid doing or saying anything that you will regret later.

Finally, find a legal representative who is sensitive to your needs. The professional should also know how state laws affect property division so that he or she can best represent you during the divorce process and settlement.

Source: Wxyz.com, "January has long been a popular month for divorce filings," Lucy Carmel, Jan. 4, 2013

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