Once you have decided to get a divorce, you should take every precaution to protect yourself, your finances, and your family. You should get organized, record everything, and prepare to open up about your personal life to your attorney. It is exhausting to have to deal with divorce proceedings but with preparation, you should be able to survive the grueling process of terminating your marriage.
When you have to go through a divorce, you have to know every legal process that you and your spouse will go through. That even includes facing a subpoena server. You also have to talk with family and friends because they may be summoned by the court for questions regarding the issues surrounding your marriage.
A wedding is one of the most expensive events in your life, but a divorce is even more expensive. Make sure you are ready financially if you’re getting divorced. You have to cut back on your unnecessary expenses to prepare for the cost of getting divorced. Because you are living separately now, prepare to open a separate savings account where your paycheck will be deposited. Make sure to inform your company that they should deposit your paychecks to your new account.
Gather All Financial Records
Start gathering all your financial records—bank statements, credit card statements, credit reports, investment portfolio, insurance policies, land titles, and other assets and liabilities. The court will consider the money your earned and assets you bought while married to be marital property. These are subject to equitable division between spouses. Organizing these records will save you time and money.
Don’t only keep these records to yourself, but make sure a trusted friend or family has copies of these. You can also place them in a safety deposit box to which your spouse doesn’t have access to. Do not keep these records at home.
During a divorce proceeding, everything will go under a microscope, even in uncontested divorces. The court has to make sure that your assets (and liabilities) are divided equally and make determinations about possible alimony and child custody. Make a diary and record everything that happens between you and your spouse during the proceedings. If this is a contested divorce, it may even be more important that you record everything that’s happening. You should also consider taking photos and videos for documentation purposes.
Plan for Custody Decisions
You shouldn’t only focus on the financial aspect of the divorce. The other element of the divorce that is especially grueling for couples is custody decisions. Who will get custody of the child? List down who’s responsible for taking the kids to school, picking them up after school, making their dinners, and helping them with their homework. This isn’t about competition, though. It will help the courts determine how to best handle the custody decision.
Update Your Will and Medical Directives
You no longer want your soon-to-be ex-spouse to make decisions about your will or your medical status in the future. Of course, your spouse shouldn’t get your assets if you, unfortunately, get into an accident and pass away before the divorce is finalized. Some states will not allow you to completely write your spouse off your will. Your spouse will instead get a percentage of your assets instead of what was originally written in your will. That is still better compared to your spouse enjoying your assets after you die.
After the divorce, this is also one of the things you have to do. Change your will once more and completely write your spouse off your will. You can now legally remove your spouse from the will. It’s expensive, but it will be worth it.
At the same time, you should also change the beneficiaries in your insurance policies, IRAs, and other types of investments. Ask your insurance companies not to notify your spouse about the action you have taken. You should be the one to explain that because of the divorce, they will no longer be your beneficiaries for your various investments.
List Down Your Non-marital Assets
Do you have properties to your name before marriage? If your mother, for example, gave you her old diamond engagement ring, that is considered separate property. These properties shouldn’t be included in the division of assets. Take digital photos of everything and include a date stamp, so the courts know that these assets are yours before your wedding.
You will feel a lot better if you know you are well-prepared for the divorce. Organizing everything is one of the keys to your mental and emotional health. It’s bad enough that you have to go through this process, so make sure that you are legally prepared for it.