The divorce process can be extremely complicated, emotionally overwhelming, and long. Not everyone deals with divorce in the same way, but it is important that anyone looking at the possibility of divorce be prepared for what is to come. When you file for divorce you need to be able to fill out several documents regarding your properties and assets. You’ll also need to be ready for the upcoming lifestyle changes regarding your living situation, finances, and more. For these reasons, it is in your best interest to ready yourself for what is to come by familiarizing yourself with the key steps in a divorce and gathering the appropriate documents.
Whether you and your spouse have recently decided to divorce, or it’s something you’ve been considering privately, make sure you know what to do in order to prepare for the process.
Survey Your Finances
First things first, make sure you know what your divorce could cost. Again, every divorce is different, but on the whole, divorce is generally an expensive process. Consider the legal fees you’ll need to pay, the changes to your cost of living once you love separately, and any other changes to your income resulting from your split. If you rely on your spouse as the sole breadwinner in your home, consider discussing your options with an attorney ahead of time to see if it is possible for you to obtain spousal support during the divorce.
Mediation or a collaborative divorce could be a less expensive option, but many of the lifestyle changes that come with a divorce could still cost you. Look over your finances, your accounts, investments, and other expenses in order to determine how you will afford your divorce. It would also be wise to set a budget at this time.
Once you’ve surveyed your financial situation, you should start gathering important documents for your portfolio. You will want documents on your accounts, investments, real estate, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, a copy of your estate plan, and anything else you deem essential. Again, discuss these documents with your attorney ahead of time to determine what you will need according to your specific situation. If your spouse was ever abusive or has a criminal history, make sure you have copies of those records as well.
Make copies of all of these key documents, at least two, and keep one folder for yourself. Give the second folder to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping. In any case, you won’t want to rely on your spouse to keep stock of all of these things for you. Even if you are ending things on good terms now, that could quickly change, and you don’t want to take the chance by putting any unnecessary power in their hands. It is better to get these documents now, before the pressure of divorce could make things more hostile.
Plan For Your Independence
Get ready to take on your own personal finances, expenses, and responsibilities. Even before your divorce is final, it is important that you open your own accounts, independent from your spouse’s, so that he or she does not have access to your money. Again, even if you are both amiable right now, this could change if your divorce hits a bump in the road. So, to protect yourself, take the safer route and open your own accounts.
You should also anticipate other changes, such as living situation, and credit. If you and your spouse have already discussed your living situation after the divorce, whether you will remain in the marital home or your spouse will, make sure you are prepared for how your expenses may change. If you haven’t yet discussed it, think about what you would prefer and how you would like to handle expenses. As for your credit score, the mindful of how that score could change. More vengeful or angry spouses might take advantage of your connected accounts and credit cards to ruin your credit if you aren’t careful. To avoid this, monitor your credit score and sever any shared credit cards or accounts.
Reflect on Your Priorities
Take advantage of the time you have before the divorce process really gets into full swing. Think about what you want out of your divorce, what you want to avoid, and how you’d like things to go. If you and your spouse share children, maybe your goal is to keep things amiable and focus on how your children deal with the change. Maybe you want to make sure you retain the house or the dog, or maybe your greatest priority is to get through your divorce quickly and inexpensively. Whatever your goals are, think them through, discuss them with your attorney, and maybe touch base with your spouse if they involve him or her. For example, if you think the two of you can work together to make this divorce process less painful on one another and your family, talk about how you can both make that happen. Keeping the divorce agreeable can make an enormous difference.
While these tips apply to most couples, some people may have a few other essential tasks early on in their divorce. To make sure you have everything covered, make sure you discuss your specific situation with your divorce lawyer.
Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC to discuss your case with our St. Charles divorce attorneys.