When most of us take the momentous walk down the aisle and say “I do,” we truly expect that our marriages will last forever – and in some cases, they do. In other cases, however, even despite our best efforts, marriage doesn’t work out as we had hoped and we find ourselves facing divorce. If you find yourself in this situation, you may, understandably, feel any number of things. You may feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, and anxious, not only about what the future holds, but also about the divorce process itself. All of these feelings are normal, and sometimes nothing but time can make them go away. The good news is that there are certain steps you can take to, at the very least, reduce some of your anxiety about the divorce process and help it to proceed more smoothly. Planning ahead can help you to avoid many common pitfalls of divorce and to generally feel better about the outcome. As you begin to plan ahead for divorce and the next chapter of your life, consider the following helpful planning pointers.
As you prepare for the divorce process, it is important to thoroughly consider your financial situation – including your assets, your debts, and your monthly expenses and budget. It can be very helpful to make a thorough inventory of all of your assets, including retirement accounts, pensions, investment accounts, and any savings accounts, trust funds, or other sources of income and savings as well as a list of all debts. Do you have credit card debt? Outstanding student loans? A monthly mortgage or car payment? What are your average monthly expenses?
Thinking through and documenting your comprehensive financial picture can be helpful and very important as a divorce proceeds. Whether a court ultimately ends up resolving your issues or whether you negotiate a settlement with your spouse, having a thorough understanding of your financial health will be important when determining matters like child support, alimony, and property division.
As part of tracking your financial health, it can be helpful to gather as much information you can, including pay stubs, tax returns, business statements, titles and deeds, bills, credit card statements, and any other information you think will be helpful. Doing so will not only be important for determination of the issues in your divorce, but also for purposes of helping you to prepare a tentative budget for your post-divorce lifestyle. After all, moving from one home and one set of associated expenses to two can be costly, and it is important to have a realistic expectation of how much you might be able to spend.
In this same vein, it can be helpful to start putting money aside as you prepare for divorce. This is not only for attorney fees and costs associated with the divorce, but also for any unanticipated costs that might arise. Additionally, if you are a stay-at-home spouse, you may want to begin to carefully consider potential job options, as you may need to return to work following the divorce to maintain the lifestyle that you currently have on two incomes.
In addition to financial considerations as you prepare for divorce, you will also want to think about your lifestyle and how you might make the transition from one home to two as smooth as possible, particularly if you and your spouse have children together. Understandably, divorce can be very difficult for children, and no amount of planning can eliminate that difficulty entirely. You can, however, take steps to make it easier for them by working with your spouse, if possible, to find a way to keep their routines and day-to-day experiences as consistent as you can.
If one spouse will be moving out of the family home, it can be helpful to think ahead about the children’s school, their activities, where their friends live, and the location of other places and activities of importance in their lives. Certainly, if one parent relocates across the city or out of state, this can be more disruptive to children than one parent moving a couple of miles away. Along these same lines, it can be helpful to talk to your children’s teachers and coaches if you anticipate a major life change like divorce, so that they can be sensitive to and keep you informed of any changes in behavior that may occur as a result.
On an additional note with respect to children, in an ideal situation, parents who are divorcing will be able to work together amicably to come up with a custody and visitation schedule and to address other matters that are important to their children’s lives. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. If you anticipate that a custody battle may arise, it can be helpful to begin keeping a diary with respect to your children. It can include things like who takes them to their extracurricular activities and appointments and who attends their school functions. You should also document important discussions and events that occur with respect to the communication with your spouse about the children. Additionally, if you believe that your spouse may eventually pose a danger to your children if given custody, it is very important to document any domestic incidents or behaviors that may occur, which you think a court would consider to be important information.
Call 303 Legal Today
If you find yourself facing divorce, planning ahead is important – but it is often difficult to do all of that planning alone. The divorce process can be complex and confusing, as many legal matters can. That is why it is always a wise decision to retain the services of a legal team familiar with family law in your area. Someone who can guide you through the process and give you advice and assistance tailored to your particular circumstances. At 303 Legal, we are proud to provide exactly that kind of representation – knowledgeable, experienced, and effective. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and learn how we might be able to help. Call us today.