You want to know exactly where you and your spouse stand financially.
There comes a time in almost every marriage when certain issues put the relationship to the test. The pressure of finances, family, or work can cause even the closest couples to drift apart. From time to time, the distance between the individuals becomes so big that it leads to the decision to end the marriage.
If currently, this is happening to you, you are not alone. Divorce demands a price, not just a financial one but in all aspects of life. Building a long-lasting marriage is a lifelong endeavor. It takes sacrifice, hard work, and commitment every day, and sometimes if it doesn’t work, it needs to come to an end for the best of both parties.
When the lack of communication, strained finances, imbalance of work, mistrust, and hurt start to slowly cause damage to your marriage, it takes more than one person to restore the marriage successfully. Unfortunately, some marriages must come to an end. Once you know for sure that divorce is what you want, it is easier to work toward that decision.
Keep reading to find out exactly what to do before you file for a divorce.
- Hire a Good Family Law Attorney
It is less expensive and easier if you and your spouse can settle your matters without litigation, so make sure you have a good family law attorney who is capable of litigating your case. You are looking for a lawyer who can settle the matter quickly and who will fight for you if tension arises. Before hiring a lawyer, always interview at least three of them to find the right one for you. Choose the one who has around 10 years of experience in practicing family and divorce law for the best results.
- Organize Your Finances
You want to know exactly where you and your spouse stand financially. The primary purpose of the divorce is equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. In order for you to get the share that you deserve, it is important to understand all of your finances.
Determine what you own. Sometimes, this is obvious. Marital assets like a house, vehicles, and financial accounts should be split equally. Other marital assets are not so easy to work with such as pension plans, inheritances, artwork, and belongings brought into the marriage.
Determine what you owe. Any owed money should be split based on which of the spouses is financially more able to pay the debt, it does not matter whose name the debts are in. To determine your marital debt, get a copy of your credit report.
- Credit In Your Own Name
Another important thing to do before the divorce is to establish credit in your own name. After the divorce, it will be difficult for you to purchase a car or a home because you would have shared credit with your spouse. This is why it is important to have your own credit. If you do not have credit to your name already, right this before you file for the divorce. It is actually pretty simple, just obtain a credit card that is only in your name and start building a credit history.
- Proof of Income
You will need documentation that shows you and your spouse’s income. If both of you are salaried employees, you will need a copy of the recent pay stubs and of the income tax returns.
Determining an income may be a challenging task if both of you are self-employed. In this case, financial business statements and bank account statements will give a better picture of the income. Before filing for the divorce, make copies of these statements. Try to gather as much as you can, and when it comes to the rest, your lawyer will help you.
- Joint Financial Accounts
It is common that after one party learns about the forthcoming divorce they will raid financial accounts. Most of the time it is done in anger or on the advice of the divorce attorney. Whatever it may be, you need to protect yourself and not let your spouse clean out the joint financial accounts you have together.
Protect yourself by opening financial accounts only in your name. Remove half of the funds from the joint financial account, and deposit them into your new account. Don’t worry, you do not have to hide this action but don’t spend the money recklessly. Document every dollar you have spent, that way it will be accounted for during the settlement negotiations.
The Bottom Line
Gathering all the necessary information and documentation may seem impossible. This process takes time, and you just need to take it one step at a time. You don’t have to navigate the divorce by yourself. Hire professionals like mediators and experienced family law attorneys who can get you through this process smoothly, and with a satisfying outcome for both parties.