Divorce can be one of the most difficult moments a person can go through in life, as it marks the breakup of a family, an end of a partnership, and involves weighty emotional and financial issues. Before deciding to end your marriage, you should take some preliminary steps.
First, sit down and write a list of your reasons for ending your marriage and for staying in your marriage. Study the list; put it away and review in a few days and see if you still agree that the cons outweigh the pros.
Second, take a financial accounting of your household. Gather all of your account statements – bank accounts, retirement accounts, mortgage statements, credit card bills – so you will have accurate information regarding your assets and liabilities.
Third, write up a bare-bones budget – what is your income, what are your absolute necessary expenses, and see if you can afford the separation. If you cannot, you will need to ask the court for temporary support, but you cannot rely on a specific sum in advance, so it makes sense to begin trimming your budget to bare minimums, just in case.
Fourth, if you have children, you need to come up with a custody plan. Ideally, if your family has been working as a unit, your children should have equal access to both parents, but the type of plan that leads to that can take different forms. You should decide which schedule best fits your lifestyle needs.
Fifth, if you plan on vacating the marital residence, be sure you have a place to stay, one that would work for the children, and one that you can afford.
Sixth, be smart about how you behave. Once you start down the path of divorce, all of your actions, from during the marriage until the date of your final judgment, will factor into what the court will decide to do on financial and custody issues. If you behave badly, it could cost you.
Finally, consult an attorney who can give you frank and reliable advice about the divorce process, your options and how viable some of your own ideas about financial matters and custody will actually be under the law. Be sure you choose an experienced family law attorney, as navigating the family court is a complex and specialized area of the law.
If you are considering divorce, contact us – we can help.