Divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you will make. But between the time you make this decision and file, you should take these steps.
Tell your spouse
Before addressing all the family law issues in your divorce, it is important to plan how you will tell your spouse. Avoid major holidays, anniversaries, family celebrations, a child’s birthday, or other important events. Select a time that allows both of you to talk, think and rest before you return to work or deal with other responsibilities.
Select a neutral location and another place away from home. Try to stay calm, be direct and avoid talking more than necessary.
If you separate from your spouse, you should decide where you, your spouse and children will live. Remember that each spouse will individually bear the costs that the couple paid during marriage. Create a realistic budget and pay no more than 25 percent of your take-home pay on rent or a mortgage.
Discuss where your children will live, visitation, child support and who will make important decisions concerning your children. Decide where the children will spend holidays, birthdays, vacations, and holidays and how visits with extended family and friends will be handled.
Begin to plan how the property will be divided. Prepare a list and photograph of your art, heirlooms, photographs and documents and other meaningful property. You may give these items to a family member or friend for safekeeping, if necessary.
Also, make a list of real estate, vehicles, machinery household items, pets, and other jointly owned property. Include their value and gather supporting documents such as titles.
Compile these documents and keep them in one place:
- Marriage documents such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreements and marriage license
- Federal and state tax returns for the past five years
- Deeds, appraisals, mortgages, rental property, cost basis and other real estate documents
- Business documents including receipts, tax returns, payrolls, and intellectual property information
- Estate documents including wills, powers of attorney and health care directives
Make copies of your financial statements, bank accounts and credit cards, mortgage, and other loan documents. Have these documents available in paper and digital formats.
Other items include:
- Open accounts in your own name after you separate so you are not liable for your spouse’s debts and to protect your credit.
- Rent a post office box if you move to assure you receive your mail.
- Change passwords on your email, banking, credit card and other accounts for privacy protection.
- Update insurance policies so you are no longer financially responsible for your spouse.
Attorneys can assist you with this planning. They can advise you on your rights and options.