Preparing for Your Divorce: The Complete Checklist

If you and your spouse have just decided to divorce, you’re likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. It can be extremely difficult to pinpoint how you feel, let alone figure out what you need to do next. The first few steps you take right after you decide to file for divorce are crucial, and the moves you make now can define how the rest of your divorce process pans out. For this reason, it is vital that you know how to properly prepare for your divorce right off the bat.

If you’re headed for divorce, make sure you’re ready. Follow these key tips to prepare for the upcoming divorce process.

  • Get Your Finances in Order: The first thing you want to do after deciding to divorce is to plan for the financial impact it could have on your life. The divorce process is expensive for many reasons, and it’s important for you to know where you currently stand and what you need to do to financially prepare for the future. Go over your bank accounts, investments, savings accounts, and other key accounts or trusts. Next, list your income and expenses, including any new expenses you may need to add on, such as child care, rent, legal fees, and so on. Then, make a set budget for the next few months and stick to it.
  • Gather Your Documents: There are several important documents that you will need to gather before the divorce is fully underway. Each spouse will need to fill out a financial form reporting all assets and properties, and you should have all of that information for your own personal records regardless. Go through your documents and make copies for yourself, and keep an extra folder of copies for safekeeping. Store that extra folder at a trusted friend or family member’s house, just in case something happens to your copies. In those folders, you should have your birth certificate, your children’s birth certificates, marriage certificate, property deeds, tax returns, account information, ownership titles, insurance documents, healthcare documents, and other important paperwork.
  • Open Your Own Accounts: Do not rely on the goodwill of your spouse, even if the two of you are on friendly terms at the moment. For your own good, it is extremely important to open your own, separate bank accounts that only you have access to. Stop using all shared credit cards, savings accounts, or other joint funds. It is possible your spouse could try to clean you out or use your own hard-earned money for themselves, but even if that doesn’t happen, it’s still good to have your own financial privacy. If they see your spending, it might start unnecessary fights, or they may try to use that information against you in court. Also, having your own accounts could help you build up your credit score, independent of your spouse.
  • Keep Records for Potential Disputes: If you anticipate a child custody dispute, make sure you keep track of how much time you spend with your children, when you pick them up or drop them off with your ex. Make note of any other details, including who takes them to school or makes dinner, and if your ex fails to do as he or she says, mark it down for your records. Also, if you’ve been involved in any legal disputes with your ex, including acts of abuse, domestic violence, drug arrests, or other bad behaviors, keep copies of these official documents to show to the court.
  • Talk to a Lawyer: This might be your very first step after you and your spouse discuss your divorce, or it may take you a little bit of time to find the right lawyer for you. In either case, make sure you discuss your case with your attorney and ask them what you should expect next. Being an active participant in your divorce could make the entire divorce process significantly smoother, and it will help your lawyer to understand your short-term and long-term legal goals. Ask your attorney what you can be doing to help your case along, and provide any information they need in regards to your finances, properties, or your spouse.

Are you ready to get started on your divorce? Our experienced attorneys at K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. are prepared to help. Contact K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. today to discuss your family law issue.

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