Divorce can be a stressful, confusing, and time-consuming process. If your marriage isn’t working out and divorce is on the horizon, you may be wondering how to prepare for divorce. Here are the ten most important steps to take to make sure you protect yourself before things hit the fan.
1. Consult a Divorce Attorney
Consult an attorney to learn about your legal responsibilities and rights. For instance, while it may seem helpful to take your children and move to your parents house until your divorce is final, from a legal standpoint, moving out of the family home, even temporarily, could be a big mistake.
2. Make Copies of Documents
Make copies of all your household files, including the following:
- Tax returns
- Check registers
- Bank statements
- Financial statements
- Credit card statements
- Social Security documents
- Retirement account statements
- Handbooks for employee benefits
- Mortgage documents
- Car loans and titles
- Investment statements
- Life insurance policies
Also, if your spouse is self-employed, gather all the information you can about his or her business’s finances. Copy all financial data stored and backed up on your home computer.
3. Inventory Family and Household Possessions
All divorces require splitting up the martial property. Because of this, you must account for all your assets. List all your major family and household items, including:
- Family heirlooms
Don’t forget to inventory storage areas and storage units, as well as valuables in a safe or deposit box.
4. Know Your Household Expenses and Budget
Analyze your check register for the previous year and take note of every utility, mortgage, and other monthly household expenditures. You should also monitor your daily cash spending to help you determine your monthly cash expenditures as well.
5. Figure Out Your Family Debt
If possible, figure out your family debt and try to pay that debt down before you enter divorce. One of the most difficult aspects to divorce negotiations is allocation of marital debt. If you can pay that debt off before divorce, then you’ll eliminate that burden from negotiations. Also, track the date the debt was incurred and the spouse it belongs to. If you find debt incurred from your spouse before the date of marriage, then that “non-marital debt” will only belong to that spouse.
6. Figure Out Your Spouse’s Income
Typically, figuring out your spouse’s income is as easy as looking at their pay stub. However, if your spouse owns a business, is self-employed, or receives cash for their income, make sure to take note of the money flowing in for a few months.
7. Determine Your Earning Potential
If you’ve been devoting yourself to childbearing and have been unemployed for a while, assess your current employability to figure out your earning potential. Also, determine if furthering your education before your divorce could benefit that earning potential.
8. Analyze Your Credit History
If you don’t have any credit cards that are in your own name, then apply for them as soon as possible and use them to establish credit history. Also, make sure to pay off any creditors to improve your credit rating if you have a low credit score.
9. Start Saving Money
You will need money to pay off bills, if your spouse moves out, until a temporary support order is established. You also need money for a retainer if you’re the one filing for divorce. Start saving money as soon as possible.
10. Make Your Children Your Priority
Stay involved in your children’s lives, including their school, sports, and social activities. Also be sure to keep their routines normal. Create a schedule where both you and your spouse can spend alone time with your children. Your children should be at the top of your agenda.
A Divorce Attorney Can Advise You on How to Prepare for Divorce
It’s important to be aware of any potential issues you might face in a divorce. To learn more about how to prepare for divorce, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.