To Do If Divorce Is Your Only Option
If you’re convinced that your marriage is irretrievably broken and you’re headed for divorce, here are some steps to take.
Talk to an attorney.
Know your legal rights and responsibilities. Know the consequences if you decide to take the children and live at your parents’ house until the divorce is final. From a legal point of view, moving to your parents’ home, even if it is temporary might be a huge mistake.
Get copies of documents.
Go through household files and make copies of everything you can find: tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, wills, Social Security statements, automobile titles, etc. In the case that your spouse is self-employed, you should gather as much information as possible about the finances of the business. Create copies of any financial data stored on your home computer. Get Organized
Make an Inventory of household and family possessions.
List the major items: furniture, artwork, jewelry, appliances, automobiles, etc. Don’t forget to check the storage areas of your home and include valuables in your safe deposit box.
Being aware of all the marital assets is important when it comes time to divide the property.
Know the household budget and expenses.
If possible, go through your check register for the past year and write down each utility, mortgage, and other household expenses for each month. Keep track of the cash you spend on a daily basis so that you’ll be able to verify your monthly cash expenditures also. Budget Worksheet
Determine how to manage debt.
Determine debt, you may want to pay it down before divorce. The division of marital debt among divorcing spouses is one of the most difficult items to negotiate. Determine whether any of the debt was incurred by one spouse or the other prior to the date of marriage. This is “non-marital debt” and the spouse that incurred it is responsible.
Find out exactly what your spouse earns.
If your spouse earns a salary, get a pay stub; if your spouse is self-employed, owns a business, or receives any portion of income in cash, do your best to keep track of the money flowing in for several months. It might be easiest to look at tax returns.
If you think it’s possible your spouse is trying to conceal money from employment, you may have to do some more research.
Know your earning potential.
You may have been out of the workforce for a while raising children or have been a housewife. You may need to decide what your earning potential might be and consider furthering your education prior to divorce.
Know your own credit history.
If you do not have credit cards in your own name, apply for them now, use them, and establish your own credit history. If you have poor credit try to pay creditors now and improve your own credit rating prior to divorce.
Build a “nest egg”.
You should always have money of your own. If your spouse moves out and stops paying bills, you will need to pay them until temporary support orders can be entered. Should you decide to file, you’ll need money for a retainer.
Make your kids your priority.
Keep your children’s routines as normal as possible during this process. If you and your spouse cannot be together with the children without arguing, schedule separate times for each of you to be with the children. Be involved in your children’s school, sports, and social activities. Do not talk bad about your spouse to your children they need to know it is ok for them to love you both. Make their feelings your first concern.
It’s important to be aware of all the potential issues you’ll face, as well as understand how the divorce process works.