When you got married, you probably never thought about divorce being part of your future. Sadly, for millions of couples, divorce will become a part of their stories. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, here are 10 things you need to do that will help you feel more in control and make the process easier on yourself and your family:
Talk with a divorce attorney. Before you take any action, you need to get the lay of the land, and that means talking with a divorce attorney. By discussing the specifics with a lawyer, you can become educated about your rights and responsibilities. An attorney can also stop you from making a mistake that could hurt your case.
Gather documents. You will need to make copies of your tax returns, financial statements, credit card statements, bank statements, investment and retirement account statements, mortgage loan documents, estate planning documents, etc. If you or your spouse are self-employed or run a business together, you will need business financial documents as well. Make hard copies of everything instead of storing it on a computer.
Inventory marital assets. Put together an inventory of all your marital assets — home furnishings, vehicles, art, jewelry, electronic equipment, etc. Include any valuables stored in offsite locations — storage units, safe deposit boxes, etc.
Write down household expenses. Make a record of at least a year’s worth of household expenses — mortgage payment, utilities, lawn service, cleaning service — so you have a good handle on your monthly expenses.
Catalog marital debt. Determine how much debt you have together and make an effort to pay it off before you divorce. If the debt was incurred by one of you prior to the marriage, then it is not considered marital debt and belongs to whoever incurred it.
Record income. Make a record of monthly income for both you and your spouse. If your spouse is self-employed or owns a business, it may be harder to track, but make the effort.
Estimate your earning potential. If it’s been awhile since you held a job, assess your skills to determine how easy it will be for you to work again. You may need support for additional education in order to re-enter the workforce.
Check your credit score. Check your credit score to make sure it is clean and there aren’t any debts you didn’t incur. If you don’t already have credit cards in your own name, apply for some so you can establish an independent credit history.
Have some savings. You will always need access to some cash, so start building some savings of your own. If your spouse stops paying the bills, you will need money until a temporary support order is entered.
Make your kids your priority. Try to stick to your regular routine as much as possible so your kids can have some kind of stability in their lives during the divorce. Never badmouth your spouse to your children or put them in the position of a go-between. Stay involved with their school and social activities. If you can’t be with your spouse without a fight, then schedule separate times for you each to be with your children.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.