How to Prepare for Divorce
Divorce isn’t an easy process for anyone. When you make the decision to go through with a divorce, preparation is key. You don’t want to go into it alone. Take time and make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. There are few main things you want to do and get organized prior to filing.
The first and one of the most important things to do is find a divorce attorney. You want to find an attorney you are comfortable with to ensure you can communicate all your needs and wants. Don’t feel like you must pick the first attorney you talk to either, feel out different lawyers and make sure you find the right one for you! An attorney will help you understand your rights and responsibilities to ensure you are following all the right steps in the process.
After you find the right attorney, you will need to begin to gather your financial information. Your attorney is going to need a clear picture of where your finances stand. This starts with determining what you own. In every marriage there are obvious marital property and assets, then there are the not so obvious. The obvious marital property and assets are the marital home, financial accounts, and vehicles. Some of the not so obvious assets would be artwork, pension plans, inheritances, or belongings brought into the marriage. With those assets out of the way, you don’t want to miss the common overlooked assets. These would include crypto currency, unvested stock options, tax refunds, airline miles, loyalty points, subscriptions, and memberships.
Once you have gathered all your assets, you want to gather all the documentation that comes with those assets. Your attorney will need to know the present value, when and where it was purchased, was it purchased joint or separately, and a copy of the real estate appraisal. Next, the attorney will ask about your debt. Marital debt, varies by state, but it tends to be split equitably, not by whose name it is in. Make sure to get a copy of your credit report to show all open accounts with the balance as well. Your attorney will need all this plus income for both parties, tax returns, mortgage statements, credit card statements, savings account statements, automobile payments, and utility bills. If children are involved, you need the cost of daycare, educational expenses, general idea of desired parenting time, and custody arrangements. Gathering all of this as quickly as possible is important because without a temporary order your spouse can empty bank accounts, sell off investments and max out credit cards.
Following getting all your financial documents together, you are going to want to compile your legal documents. This includes all your marriage documents (prenups or postnups), tax returns, real estate documents, business documents, and any end of life plans. These will all need to be sorted out through the divorce. You also will want to itemize your belongings, make a list of properties you jointly own, and change your passwords.
A huge matter you want to handle during a divorce is protecting your credit and finances. Divorce may not directly impact your credit score, but you could take a hit for late or missed payments. To protect yourself, open new accounts in your name and buy identity theft protection. It’s not a bad idea to contact and alert creditors about your pending divorce.
The final things that you are going to want to do to prepare for your divorce is create an after divorce budget, sort out separation details, don’t move out of your home, make temporary plans for your children, and be on your best behavior. Allow your attorney to deal with the communication and the difficult conversations. Don’t try to do this alone. Lean on your attorney, family, friends, and resources! You will get through this, just make sure to have a plan!
The attorneys at Brown, Dutton & Crider Law Firm LLC would be honored to stand by your side during this difficult time. Jenni, Lance, and Tracy are experienced, transparent, and compassionate Georgia family lawyers that have been practicing attorneys for more than a combined 35 years. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin planning for your future!