Part of the separation and divorce process has to do with finances: spousal support, child support, distribution of assets and/or liabilites. Some couples have shared information and decision making about finances during the marriage; they know each other’s income, they know the overall marital estate, they have equal access to financial documents. Other couples allow one person to be in charge of the finances, to file the tax returns, to balance the checkbooks, and to make the investment/savings decisions. Access to information is usually limited to that one spouse.
In trying to decide how to approach a separation, what steps to take to protect objectives, how to negotiate or even how to litigate, knowing the financial estate is key.
If you are the spouse who does not have the financial knowledge of the marriage, then you need to feel comfortable asking for the financial information (which can be done by your lawyer as well). How can you know what you are gaining or what you are waiving without that information?
Making informed decisions is important as part of a separation. Divorce is emotional; but emotions cannot cloud having all the information on which to base a decision. Once an agreement is signed or once a court makes a determination, the terms are set; wishing or wondering if you missed something because you were scared to ask or you felt badly about wanting the separation so you didn’t ask is not an emotion you want to experience.
Lawyers are used to asking and are used to having their clients be asked; it is a normal and important part of the process.