Preparing for a divorce is just as important as talking to your spouse about getting one. Before you ever have that conversation, it’s a good idea to start taking steps to collect information that can help you in court.

While many people talk about divorce and then go on to collect copies of financial documents, assets and other important items, the reality is that you will have more time and cooperation getting those documents if you can get them before you discuss divorce.

Why should you collect documents before divorce?

One of the main reasons is the potential for your significant other to lock you out of digital accounts. For instance, if he or she has a separate banking account or retirement account that you normally access, your spouse could change the username or password to lock you out. Then, you’ll be at his or her mercy when seeking those documents. It’s better if you can make a copy ahead of time when you have a right to access those files without conflict.

Another good reason to collect documents for your attorney ahead of time is so that you know where you stand in terms of your finances and what you have to gain or lose in a divorce. You should pull credit reports and other documents to make sure you know of any potentially hidden assets and to make sure you notate all debts and assets in your or your spouse’s names.

Divorce is sometimes difficult, but by addressing the collection of documents before you talk to your spouse, you’ll be in a better position moving forward.