The idea of planning for divorce can seem enormously difficult. So many emotions and questions arise that make it difficult to concentrate.
Two important actions that are essential to prepare for divorce:
- Gather financial information
- Find a qualified therapist
Gathering Financial Information
The single largest factor that can increase the cost of a divorce is gathering information about the community and separate estates. Before filing for divorce, copy and save documentation about what each spouse owns, owes, or has any financial interest in whatsoever. This information can be on paper or saved to a flash drive. Be careful about using cloud services because your spouse might delete everything.
Information that should be saved and given to the divorce attorney:
- Passwords and login information for each financial account and debt
- The most current retirement account statements
- Retirement account statements for the past two years
- Five most recent tax returns, along with all attachments, schedules, and papers used to complete those returns (these can be obtained from the third party tax preparer if one was used or they can be ordered from the I.R.S.)
- Most recent statements for each financial account
- Most recent home mortgage statement
- Most recent credit card statements
- Utility statements over the past 12 months
- Other statements associated with running the household over the past 12 months
- Most recent statements for all other debts, e.g. car loans
- Each spouse’s five most recent paystubs
This list is not exhaustive. Each household is different. The goal is to obtain a complete picture of the family finances, including all assets, debts, income, and costs to run the home. If there are concerns the other spouse may have inappropriately spent, moved, or hidden assets, the list should be expanded to include the above information, but back over a longer period of time.
If children are involved, it’s important to keep a record of the times each parent spends with the children in the months leading up to the divorce and after it is filed.
Find The Right Therapist To Help Focus On Details And Important Decisions
A divorce is traumatic and difficult. Emotions pile on top of each other. People can feel a sense of failure, loss, fear, grief, anger, and more, all at once. These emotions interfere with a person’s ability to focus on details, process information, and make important decisions. Emotions can also impede a person’s ability to testify effectively. Judges are busy and they generally try to be compassionate. A judge cannot make an assumption about what a witness might have said if he or she had been better able to focus on testimony or, on occasion, been able to stop weeping. A person who has hardened himself or herself to avoid showing emotion may give the impression of being uninterested, bitter, or appear to have inappropriate anger issues. Therapy can help reach a balance.
Even when it is unlikely a case will end up in front of a judge, negotiating with the person you expected to spend your life with and once considered a best friend, requires a clear head and management of emotions. The assistance of a therapist can be invaluable in preparing for divorce and going on with life afterward.
There are many other things that can be done if a divorce is likely. These two are the most important and universal.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein in intended for informational purposes only and should not be as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
© Copyright Brian McNamara 2016, may be reproduced with credit to the author.