Thinking of Divorce? Start Doing These Eight Things Now.
One: Keep your plans to yourself, at least initially. Coming to terms with the fact that the marriage is over and cannot be reconciled is a difficult and painful process. Your spouse may refuse to acknowledge that, from your perspective, the marriage is over and you are ready to move forward. Perhaps you’ve just grown apart and have nothing in common. Perhaps there has been infidelity or your spouse has a drug or alcohol problem. Whatever the circumstance, yelling at your spouse and threatening divorce rarely accomplishes anything. Instead, it likely will serve only to put her/him on the defensive and feed her/his animosity and insecurity. Instead, find out what your rights and obligations will be if you pursue a divorce.
Two: Consult an experienced domestic attorney. If possible, speak with an attorney prior to separation and prior to filing any case in the Family Court. A consultation with an experienced attorney will give you an opportunity to understand the law about divorce, custody, visitation, alimony, child support and the division of your assets and debts. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions about your unique situation and how our laws may apply to your family and you. Speaking with a qualified attorney will help you to understand the legal process itself including what information you will need and a general timeline for a divorce.
Three: Familiarize yourself with your spouse’s and your financial situation. It is important to understand what sources of income and compensation that you and your spouse have. For example, the Court requires that each spouse file a Financial Declaration. In order to fill out the form, you will need information as to your gross and net incomes and your monthly expenses as well as monies available in your accounts, including any retirement accounts and pensions.
Four: Make a list of your spouse’s and your assets and debts and itemize and photograph the contents of your home(s) and other valuable personal property. This planning tool goes hand-in-hand with understanding your financial situation. When getting a divorce, you will be dividing your marital assets, debts and personal property. Listing these items will help you prepare for Court and aid your lawyer in understanding and valuing the marital estate.
Five: Gather necessary documents, records and other information you will need. These documents include personal tax returns and supporting documentation, business tax returns, recent pay stubs, proof of health/dental insurance and costs of monthly premiums, proof of daycare and associated costs, titles to real estate and vehicles, copies of Last Wills, copies of life insurance policies and any cash surrender value, current credit card statements, bank statements and other documents that your lawyer may require.
Six: Educate yourself on the effect divorce has on the family and determine the resources available in your area to counter any negative impact. Each family responds differently to divorce depending on the circumstances and the age and maturity of any children involved. There are many resources available (faith based and otherwise) that assist divorcing spouses through the grief associated with divorce. There are also many qualified therapists and counselors in your area. Research what is available to you including which therapist/counselor may be in-network through insurance.
Seven: Understand what evidence may be available to you (and against you). Information from phone records, texts and social media sites can be used in Court. This information is often used to help prove marital misconduct such as substance abuse or adultery or even bad judgment in a custody case. You may be required to download your Facebook contents and provide it to your spouse’s lawyer, for example. You could be required to produce your electronics such as a cellular phone, laptop, or iPad for evidence recovery. These are some examples of evidence used in the Family Court.
Eight: Finally, develop an exit strategy. Understanding your rights and obligations and arming yourself with necessary information and evidence is key to protecting your children, and your assets and yourself in divorce. It will be time to plan for the future, including living arrangements and financial success. Your lawyer can help you through that process and assist you in avoiding pitfalls.
Want to learn more? Contact attorney Allison Dunham at 864-585-5100. Learn more about Allison here.
These posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends. They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future representation.