Preparing for the Divorce Ahead of Time

Creating a checklistA divorce can be a long, complex, life-changing event. Based on our many years of experience representing clients getting divorced, it’s not something you should just jump into unprepared. If you’re seriously considering getting a divorce, talk to one of our attorneys about your situation and take these steps to prepare for the process.

1. If you have kids, maintain a stable, safe home environment for them.

It’s rarely a good idea to move out of the marital home and leave your children with your spouse. If you do, a judge may get the impression that you think your spouse is a great parent and is perfectly capable of taking care of your children. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not be a message you want to send.

2. Keep a daily record of everything you do with your children.

Include the time they spend with your spouse as well. Note any negative events (arguments started in front of your children, belittling comments about you said in their presence).

3. Gather documents to support what you’ve said in your record.

Write down names of witnesses who have knowledge of your parenting skills or those of your spouse. Get copies of relevant police reports or school records.

4. Gather all information and documents related to your financial situation and make copies.

Look for bank statements, credit card statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, loan applications, the last three to five years’ tax returns and W-2 forms, property tax bills, mortgage statements, etc. It’s common that one spouse maintains the financial records, makes payments and cuts checks while the other stays out of the finances. In a divorce, this may leave one spouse unaware of what the other is doing.

5. Take an inventory of all of your personal property.

Normally, property that was yours before the marriage is considered to be separate property and should remain yours (with some exceptions).

6. Save some cash.

The divorce process can be very expensive. Put aside some cash so you have some liquid funds. Put the money in a new account in a bank other than the one you normally use. You may need money to live on or to hire legal representation, financial experts and mental health professionals to guide you through your divorce.

7. Open your own post office box.

This will ensure that your mail will sit securely in a locked box that only you can access so you can receive confidential mail from your divorce professionals, as well as bank statements. Start an e-mail account that only you can access, which may also help keep online correspondence private.

8. Get a copy of your credit report.

Resolve any disputed debts as soon as possible. Monitor your credit report to make sure that your spouse is not dissipating marital assets. If you fear your spouse might borrow money in your name, sign up for a credit monitoring service so you can be notified if there’s a change to your credit history.

If you have any questions or concerns about getting a divorce, the legal process and how it may affect you, contact our office for a free consultation.