While some spouses may find service of divorce papers a complete shock, most spouses see the writing on the wall before one – or both – seek to end the marriage. And once the consideration of divorce enters your serious thoughts, you have the option to proceed with or without advance preparation. We recommend taking certain preliminary steps; they will help not only the legal process but also your economic and emotional wellbeing.
The Divorce Blog at Huffington Post had a recent post on these types of preliminary steps, and we thought it worth sharing.
First, prepare yourself for the worst. Divorce means ending a marriage, breaking up a family, creating two households, dividing assets. No one should enter the divorce process thinking it will be easy or painless; given the stakes, one would anticipate at least emotional and financial jolts.
Second, seek out an experienced and skilled family law attorney who fits your particular philosophy or outlook for the divorce process. An experienced attorney will be able to give you proper advice of what to expect and the different paths you could take to reach your particular goals. Choosing a lawyer with whom you do not see eye-to-eye will only result in problems down the line.
Third, budget your life once the divorce starts. What can I afford? How will I pay for a household and my monthly expenses? What will I do after divorce? How much will I need to earn or receive in maintenance to support my children and myself?
Fourth, begin an accounting of all household items. You may have done this already for homeowner’s insurance, but be sure your records are current.
Fifth, make copies of all your important financial papers, from mortgages and deeds to trusts and wills to bank statements and tax returns.
Sixth, keep good records after separation so you can justify all expenses as necessary rather than extravagant.
Seventh, if you have children, begin thinking about a custody arrangement and a parenting plan. Can you and your spouse make decisions together and co-parent successfully? How do you want to handle custody exchanges? How do you want to divide physical time with the children?
Eighth, consider therapy. Divorce will become very stressful very quickly and you might find it helpful to have a counselor to talk with about your emotions and the life transitions ahead.
Ninth, begin to think very practically about what your finances must be after the divorce becomes final. What must you change in your life to make that happen? What tradeoffs are you willing to make? What are your bottom line positions?
Finally, set out a calendar of divorce, with important court dates noted and “due dates” for getting information to your attorney.
Divorce always brings up difficult emotions and new life challenges, but advanced preparation can make the process easier.
If you have questions about divorce, contact our St. Louis divorce attorneys – we can help.