Divorce is one of the most complicated and stressful ordeals a person can go through. It requires you to make life-changing decisions that concern nearly every aspect of your life. It can also drain you of your energy and finances in just a short span of time. On top of that, you have to prepare yourself for all the logistics that come along with it.
As such, here are a few things you need to know or do before filing for divorce. Doing these things can make the entire separation and divorce process easier and a lot less overwhelming. Once you have a firm grasp of what’s to come, it will be so much easier to focus and work towards your desired outcome.
Secure legal support
One of the first steps you should make is to find the right divorce attorney. When it comes to divorce, one wrong move can bring drastic consequences that will affect the rest of your life. Speaking to a lawyer before making any decisions can make all the difference.
A quality lawyer will guide you through the entire process from protecting your assets to securing child support. Naturally, the ideal situation is to settle you and your partner’s issues without litigation. But if that’s not possible, ensure you have an attorney who is not only empathetic to your needs but also feisty enough to defend your case before a judge should the need arise.
When choosing a divorce lawyer, carefully assess their legal background and experience in the field. Review client testimonials and previous victories, too. The right attorney will not only fight for your goals but also educate you of your rights and nuances of state laws. While credentials are great, only you can assess if a potential lawyer is trustworthy and competent. If you feel the slightest doubt, they are likely not the right match for you.
Prepare your legal documents
Divorce involves a lot of paperwork. Having the following legal documents ready beforehand will give you more time to focus on the actual process.
- Marriage certificate
- Any prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements
- Copies of licenses
- Trust documents
- Copies of any wills created during the marriage
- Proof of income, recent pay stubs, and your most recent income tax return.
Review your finances
To get your fair share of assets, keep copies of all financial documents that have accumulated during your marriage. Gather information about your bank accounts, real estate property, and other investments. Some belongings like your home, cars, and financial accounts are often ruled out as equitable assets.
Debts are generally split based on who’s more financially capable of paying it off. The easiest way to justly measure marital debt is to assess your credit report. All existing debts will be indicated there.
Clear out joint financial accounts
In some cases, spouses raid financial accounts in response to an impending divorce. They may do it out of anger or on the advice of their own attorney.
Protect your finances by opening a separate account under your name alone. Then remove half of the funds from your joint account and transfer them into your new account. Keep a record of every penny you spend so that it can be considered in court or during settlement negotiations.
While filing for divorce can be overwhelming, it also marks a bright new chapter in your life. Starting on the right track can make the entire process more peaceful, just, and drama-free.