Check your credit report. Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at Credit.com, says it's crucial to look at your credit report before a divorce trial. Review your credit history to make sure your spouse hasn't missed payments on any joint accounts, opened any credit cards in your name or engaged in other behaviors that may have damaged your credit. (It's also just a good habit to vet your credit report for errors every so often.)
After either party has filed for divorce, begin separating your finances, starting by closing joint accounts. "As long as those joint accounts are open, you're both 100 percent responsible for any debt incurred by either person," Detweiler says. If you can't afford to pay off debt on a joint account, create a payment plan with your spouse, so you have a timeline of when you will be able to close the account.
[See: 50 Smart Money Moves.]
The bottom line. It requires time and effort, but you can save a substantial amount of money in discovery fees by compiling your personal financial documents without much help from your attorney. Lisa Hanson, financial adviser at Firstrust Financial Resources in Philadelphia, says "when you meet with an attorney, you're on the clock," so keep the clock face still if you can.