Getting divorced is a monumental decision and requires careful thought out planning. Here are five important steps you should take before filing for divorce*:
1. Copy all financial records: It’s essential to have a handle on your finances and funds.. Before your soon to be Ex has the chance to discard or remove documents, you must copy each of these items (3 years’ worth, if available):
- tax returns
- credit card statements
- bank, brokerage and retirement account statements
- life insurance documents
- evidence of ownership of any other assets: homes, property, life insurance policies and business interests
- order and review both your and your spouse’s credit reports
2. Rainy day fund: Put money away in the event the court is delayed in granting you temporary alimony, child support or attorneys’ fees. It’s not a bad idea to take half of the balance from any joint cash accounts, as the courts can get backlogged, and it’s important to be able to pay your expenses until your hearing.
3. Children: Speak with a mental health professional about strategies to a) speak with your children about the impending divorce and b) help your children transition to two separate households.
4. Start Envisioning and Begin to Plan your Post-Divorce Life: Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay in the marital residence? Will you need to go back to work?
5. Consult with a Marital and Family Law Attorney: Do research by looking at reviews and speaking with trusted friends and family about well-regarded recommendations. Speak to an attorney whose practice is devoted to Marital and Family Law. These are the professionals who are aware of the intricacies and trends in alimony laws, equitable distribution, parenting and child support.
*This is not legal advice but rather general information.