Preparing for Divorce
You’ve done the research and you’re ready to move forward. You might not want the divorce, but you know it’s happening. Now, what do you do? Step one is to meet with a divorce attorney to learn your rights and options for moving forward with your life. Step two is planning and preparing. Here are some of the next steps to preparing for your divorce.
Finances are typically the first issues of a divorce. Whether you have handled all the finances in the past or not you need to take a moment to review them. Find out how much your house is worth, how much your cars are worth, how much debt you and your spouse have, and how much is in your savings or IRAs. If you are good with numbers it may help to put together a personal balance sheet. Knowing your assets and debts can be helpful.
Your attorney will need copies of any and all important documents. Even if your divorce is uncontested or you think that an agreement is possible, you should gather documents just in case the divorce settlement falls apart. Get copies of these documents now because obtaining them later may be more difficult. Get copies of paystubs, banking statements, tax returns, credit card statements, mortgage statements, car loans, retirement statements, etc.
Create a budget, or several budgets, based on different scenarios. List out incomes and expenses. Think about how much your monthly living expenses are now and how much they may be in the future. Err on the side of caution. When creating the budget, look for items you can cut. We recommend to reduce as many expenses as you can when going through a divorce. You don’t want to be economically strapped while paying for a divorce. A budget will give you a good idea of how much you need to tighten your spending.
We always recommend to our clients that they should start saving money, or at least start decreasing their expenses. Clients going through a divorce need to shrink their expenses as much as possible. You will need the flexibility for unexpected expenses like attorney fees, court costs, security deposit for an apartment, car problems, etc.
Figure out what you may want to fight over and know the order of priority. Is primary custody your number one request or is it spousal support? Identify the issues you may be more willing to compromise on. No one gets everything they want in a divorce. You need to go into this divorce with goals and reasonable expectations. Have the list ready for your divorce attorney.
Things could get ugly, especially if this divorce is a surprise to your spouse. Maintain access to your funds as spouses may be tempted to drain accounts when they find out you are filing for a divorce. You may decide to withdraw all the money and deposit it into a separate bank account. This is not illegal to do. You are accountable for the money, but nothing says you can’t preserve it if you think your spouse may waste it. Another good strategy is to apply for credit cards and have them available if you need funds.
Think about a place you can move to if things getting really nasty or violent, perhaps with a family member or friend. You don’t need to continue living with your spouse. It is not against the law to abandon your home or children to avoid physical harm. Your attorney can discuss an emergency game plan.
Read (or watch videos) about divorce. Learn as much as you can about the process and the lingo. Go through all of our content to learn more about the divorce process, your legal rights, and the answers to the most asked questions. We have a divorce guide, and divorce videos. The more you know, the less surprised your will be.
Divorce is 50% law and 100% emotion. Be ready to talk with a marriage therapist. Sure, you can talk to us too, but we are divorce attorneys not therapists. We are not as good at discussing your emotions and twice the expense. Here is a list of local marriage therapists to talk with you about your divorce.