Divorce is a process. It can be a long, complicated, drawn-out one. This can be a highly emotional time, one full of pressure and tension, and being prepared may help make sure nothing gets lost along the way.
With that in mind, here is a checklist of things you may want to take care of ahead of time to ensure your divorce goes as well as it possibly can. This list is not all-encompassing by any means, but it may be a good place to start formulating a strategy.
Divorce laws vary from state to state, and it will be in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the statutes where you live. For example, California is a community property state.
This means that, when it comes time for the division of property, the court views all assets acquired during the marriage as being owned jointly by both spouses.
This can have a significant effect of the final judgment. As there are many laws that differ depending on where you reside, it may benefit you to become acquainted with the specific regulations in your area.
Have A Plan For The Kids
Divorce can be complicated in the best of times, but throwing kids into the mix can muddy the waters even further. If you have children, it’s important set up a plan to ensure that they are cared for during this process. You may want to examine guidelines regarding how things like custody and child support work in your state.
Your kids will still need the same level of care and have the same needs met as before. It may be in your best interest to formulate a parenting plan to enact during the divorce proceedings, and even afterward. Knowing they are cared for is one less thing you will have to worry about.
This probably comes as no shock, but a divorce can be an expensive undertaking. Even in an uncontested dissolution of marriage, there are fees for filing the paperwork.
Beyond that, there are costs of going to court, for filing and responding to motions, potential child and spousal support, and the division of property.
There are also the expenses of setting up a new household to take into account, and if you hire an attorney to help with the process, those fees can add up quickly. As you deal with the day-to-day specifics of your divorce, it is easy to lose sight of the expenses, and it may be a good idea to start setting money aside early to help offset any surprise charges.
There is a great deal of detail involved in divorce.
- Whether or not there are minor children,
- the amount of joint property shared by the spouses,
- the general level of contentiousness between you and your soon-to-be-ex,
- and many more factors can impact just how complex the process becomes.
You may be faced with multiple appearances in court or sessions with a mediator.
The court may also need access to a number of documents, there will be forms that need to be filled out, and others to which you must respond.
While having everything you’ll need organized and ready to go ahead of time may seem like a nuisance at first, it will likely save you time and hassle down the road.
Gather Financial Records
A big part of the divorce settlement is the division of property. This is where the courts allocate all of the shared possessions accrued over the course of a marriage. This can have a huge influence on your financial future, you’ll need to disclose all of your assets and debts, and you may want to have all of the documentation ready to hand over.
You’ll want to collect a list of:
- all known accounts,
- insurance policies,
- and tax records going back at least a few years.
- Catalog all debts,
- including mortgages,
- car payments,
- student loans,
- credit cards,
- and wherever else you owe money.
- Name all significant assets,
- like homes,
- real estate,
- and other property.
You may even want to break down your financial, time, and work contributions to the marriage. All of this and more may shape the ultimate split, and being well prepared will only benefit you in these circumstances and help secure your long-term interests.
Divorce can be a tumultuous, emotional time in your life. The end of a marriage is a moment of great upheaval. Odds are, you’re going to need some support to get through it intact. You don’t necessarily need to make your situation public or tell everyone you encounter all the sordid details of your divorce.
That said, it might be nice to have a support system in place, to have a shoulder or two to lean on when things get tough. This can be friends or family or even one of the many groups out there designed to help people going through similar trials. If nothing else, it might be helpful to be reminded that you’re not in this alone.
Have A Plan For After The Divorce
You may be so focused on your divorce that you haven’t given much thought to what comes next. Maybe you just want to get through it so you can get on with your life, and you figure you’ll deal with what happens when it happens. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s never too early to think about that step, and you will have a lot to consider when you do.
After the split, your finances will be drastically different.
- You may have to pay child or spousal support.
- Your living situation will likely change, which can create a bevy of new expenses.
- After a marriage is dissolved, your tax status will also be adjusted.
With all of this, you may need to create a tighter budget for yourself and regulate spending. You may also want to keep a close eye on your credit score if your ex is ordered to pay certain loans or bills.
Getting divorced doesn’t automatically alter any financial agreements you entered into while married. If your former spouse is supposed to pay certain things but doesn’t, it can negatively impact you.
If there are children involved, depending on the custody arrangement, your schedule will likely look quite different. You may have to find new sources for child care if you’re the primary guardian, or adjust for visitation if you are not. That’s just the tip of the iceberg to take into account as you move forward with the next phase of your life.