If you are considering a divorce, there are some important steps you should take before filing a complaint. These steps will help you be more prepared for the divorce process and ensure your financial needs are protected during the divorce. Also, the more organized you are before filing, the easier it will be for your attorney to understand your case.
Start putting money aside. Divorce can be very costly, especially if you plan to hire an attorney. It is also important to save money so you can pay your bills on a single income once your divorce is final.
Open a separate bank account. If you are employed, have part or all of your paycheck deposited into a separate account that your spouse cannot access.
Reduce unnecessary expenditures. Do not make large purchases or splurge on gifts while you are preparing for a divorce.
Close joint accounts. If you and your spouse have joint credit cards, either cancel them or remove one spouse's name. If you have a joint bank account, consider splitting the money and closing the account.
Document Your Marital Lifestyle
Begin keeping track of your family finances. This includes your income as well as your spouse's income. It also includes your assets, debts and expenses.
Start copying important financial documents. This includes bank and credit card statements, pay stubs, tax returns and receipts for expensive purchases.
Store your financial documents in a safe place away from the home. It may be helpful to open a safe deposit box in only your name. You can store your financial documents in the safe deposit box or at a family member's home. These documents will be very important for your attorney and the judge during your divorce.
Prepare for Custody Disputes
Start keeping a diary regarding your children. Write down who takes them to their appointments and attends their extracurricular activities. This will be important if you anticipate a custody dispute.
Make copies of any police reports or drug evaluations that may demonstrate why your spouse should not have custody of your children. Store these documents in a safe place away from the home.
Obtain records from your children's school that show which parent attends school functions and parent-teacher conferences. This is important to show how involved you are in your children's lives.
Do not move out of the home. Unless there is violence in the home, try to stay with your children in the home until your divorce is finalized. Sometimes a court will award custody or more parenting time to the parent that stays in the home with the children.
Prepare for Legal Representation
Start reviewing possible divorce attorneys. Ask your friends for recommendations and attend consultations with several attorneys. It is important that you feel comfortable with your divorce attorney.
Meet with other important financial professionals to prepare for your divorce. This may include an accountant or financial planner. These people can help you prepare for the economic impact of your divorce.
Consult with a therapist. This is important for your own emotional well-being during the divorce. It may also be helpful to speak with a child therapist to ensure that your divorce is as stress-free as possible for your children.
If you suspect that your spouse will become abusive once you file for divorce, make sure you have a safe place to go to quickly with your children. Be careful not to hide assets or destroy paperwork. This can make you look dishonest to the court.
Talk to friends who have gone through a divorce. They can help you through the process. Look for local divorce support groups at your community center or library. Check for programs that may be available to help ease your children through this transition. Your children's school or pediatrician may also have information regarding these programs.
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