A divorce is not something that many people actually look forward to doing. It is also not something that you plan to do when you get married. However, it may be something that you absolutely need to do. If you are considering a divorce, it is already a difficult time in your life. Most likely, you have already been through a host of emotions while considering if you divorce is the path you want to take. Those emotions have most likely impacted your children, your spouse, and even other family members. Divorce is a life changing event that impacts you and your entire family. In addition to making sure this is the step you really want to take, you must understand all the next steps. You want to take these three steps before filing for divorce.
Step 1 – Financial Inventory
You need to have an understanding of where you and your spouse are financially. A divorce is when you distribute the assets and debts equitably. In an effort to ensure you get a fair share in the divorce, you must know that state of your finances. Some of your assets may be obvious to you, such as your car, house, and bank accounts. There may be other items to consider, such as artwork, pensions, any inheritances, and anything else that is considered marital property. You also have to consider what you owe, even if it is in just one of your names. That will not matter during the divorce process. What will matter is who is able to pay back the money. If you pull your credit report, you will be able to get an idea of what you owe and to whom.
You need to get documentation of you and your spouse’s income. You should plan to get copies of pay stubs and tax returns as proof of income. You want to establish credit in your own name. A divorce may be difficult for your credit and you may have a difficult time purchasing a house or car because your credit has been tied to your spouse. A simple way to do this is to open a credit card in your own name. You want to make sure you protect your money. You should be aware of the money you have in all joint accounts. You want to consider opening an account in your own name and move half of the money in the joint accounts to your personal account in an effort to protect what is yours. Divorces can bring out the worst in people and you do not want to find out the hard way that the money is gone. Be sure to document everything you spend in case your spending comes up in court.
Step 2 – Documents
As you can see in the above step, you need to collect many documents to show where all your money is and how it is spent. You should create a system that makes sense to you. This way when you need to provide this information to your attorney, you know exactly where it is. You want to put the documents into categories so you can group them together to ensure that you do not overlook any documents. You should note whether or not the paper is documenting if it is an asset before the marriage started or after. You should determine is thee asset is owned by both of you.
When you are documenting all of your assets, you want to consider closing your joint credit accounts. If possible, you should pay off as much of your debt as you can. Even if you cannot pay them off, you should still close them. This is make sure that neither you nor your spouse will run up the credit card bills. In the event that you cannot pay off the debts, as part of the divorce, you can negotiate who must pay what portion of the debt. You may be able to contact the credit card company and negotiate a lower amount that must be paid. While you are doing this, you should alert your creditors that you are in the process of a divorce and update your address, if you have moved.
Step 3 – Seek Legal Advice
Divorce can be challenging, emotionally and financially draining. You should always consider consulting a professional for legal advice. It is easier, faster, and cheaper if you and your spouse can work through a divorce without having to go to court. It may not be possible and you should make sure that your attorney is able to litigate your case in a court. To decide which is the best attorney for your divorce, you should interview a few of them to make sure that you pick the one that is going to fight the hardest for you.
While it may seem deciding to get a divorce is the most difficult part of a divorce, sorting through all the accounts and documenting your spending is time consuming and emotionally draining. You need to make sure that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.