Deciding to get a divorce could be one of the most difficult decisions in your life, especially when there are children and other complications involved in the process. It is a good idea to make this big decision while you are not in an emotional state, as it could be a long, complicated, and life-changing process. If you’re at the point where you have exhausted marriage counseling and any other options, there are a few things to check off your list before proceeding.
Choose an Attorney
Unless you already know someone who can help you, it doesn’t hurt to interview a few attorneys before choosing someone to represent you. Especially if you know your case will be difficult or involve different types of assets, you will want to make sure you pick a person who is competent in all the areas you need.
Decide Custody Goals
If you have young children, it is a good idea to decide what type of schedule will work best for both you and your spouse, as you will likely be sharing custody unless you’re in a unique or extreme situation. Having this all planned out can help speed up the divorce process.
There are many documents needed in divorce proceedings including finances, proof-of-income, jointly owned property paperwork — such as for your home or vehicles — and any other relevant assets. If your divorce is coming as a surprise to your spouse, it is better to collect these documents before serving them with divorce papers to avoid any difficulties.
Protect Your Finances
It is also important to determine your financial state and how all your assets and debts should be most fairly split, especially things that may not have a clear joint ownership such as pensions, artwork, or items you bought before the marriage.
If your spouse may be upset over finding out about the divorce, it’s possible that they could try to empty joint bank accounts or sell items before you realize it. If you suspect this is possible, open your own account and put half of the joint funds into it. Be sure to keep records of all of your transactions so you aren’t accused of stealing later, and freeze any other accounts you are concerned about. Also think about paying off and closing joint credit cards, then opening your own card if you don’t have one, to start building your credit score.
Keep the Record Clean
While the divorce is happening, it is best not to live like you’re single and not to go on spending-sprees. You should also decide whether you can stay living in your home to help maintain equal rights to it. While the situation between you and your spouse may be difficult, be polite and civil so the process can complete as easily as possible. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you with all of your unique needs and obtain the fairest outcome to your divorce.