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Considering divorce? Take a few minutes to understand your finances

Marriages end during good economies and bad, but we remember hearing about couples who put off divorce during the recession. The cost of splitting up was just too much for them to handle -- not the legal costs, but the expense of setting up two households when they could barely afford one. They chose to wait until home prices stabilized or an unemployed spouse found work, until their credit card balances were more manageable or medical bills for the kids had been paid off.

With the economy on the mend, the costs of dividing property and establishing separate households are a little less daunting. Not for every family, of course, but more of them can see that the costs of divorce outweigh the benefits of staying married.

Still, it is important for anyone considering divorce to understand the family's finances and to prepare for life after divorce. Accounting Today's Tax Alpha feature offers a few tips.

Credit report: We've all seen the TV commercials about consumers touting their amazing credit scores and the power that comes with a good credit history. One of the first steps to understanding your current situation is to run credit reports for you and your spouse. The reports will not only tell you if your spouse has been on a secret spending spree; they will also give you an idea of what your credit history will look like after the divorce, and that can help with property division and budgeting.

We'll go through the rest of the list next week.

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