Thinking of getting a divorce? Before you file, there are some things you should know.
A divorce will affect your relationship with your spouse, your finances, your children’s lives, and your future.
If your spouse is on board, filing for divorce is a straightforward process. However, if not, there are a few things you need to do in advance to protect yourself.
To make it a smoother transition, make the necessary preparations before filing. Keep reading to find out what to do when getting a divorce.
1. Discuss Custody Options
If you and your spouse are on the same page, the logistics of filing for divorce are much simpler. You can have a conversation regarding your children if you have any.
But, before that conversation happens you need to decide some things for yourself.
Knowing you may have to share custody, what is your ideal custody schedule? How much time can you ask for with your children? What would be a fair request?
Go over your schedule and your children’s school and extracurricular schedules. Explore how you can share the responsibilities fairly.
2. Find an Attorney
It’s crucial that you find a lawyer you trust and feel comfortable with. You may need to interview multiple attorneys to find the right Salt Lake City divorce lawyer for you.
Inquire about their experience in family law and their outlook on your case. Ensure they understand your goals and are on the same page as you.
Also, pay attention to how much they talk and how much they listen. You need a lawyer who will listen to your concerns and find solutions based on your unique situation.
Attorneys have different fee levels depending on their experience, the city, and the work required in your case. While you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for cost, decide how much you’re willing and able to spend in advance.
Finding an attorney is easy; finding the right one may take some work.
3. Sort Out Your Finances
Before filing, you need to get your finances organized. You’ll need documentation of everything for your case.
Some people make a marital balance sheet to outline all assets and debts. It specifies what you own and what you share with your spouse, and any debts under your name.
Collect your recent pay stubs and income statements. If you have joint bank accounts, don’t close them or withdraw your part of the money without your attorney’s advice.
It’s helpful to run a credit report to see if/how much repairing you’ll need to do.
4. Build Individual Credit
A common challenge facing divorcees is building credit under their own name. They may have existing credit, but it’s tied to their ex-spouse’s.
It’s never to early to start working on this.
Order a credit card in your name. Use it and pay it off in full every month. This is crucial to be able to buy assets and get loans in the future. You can do this long before filing for divorce.
5. Figure Out Where You’ll Live
Unless you need to leave an abusive situation immediately, you might not want to move out of your shared home right away. That’s okay; take this time before filing to decide what you want to do.
Whether you plan on moving or staying, you should continue making mortgage payments so that the judge sees that you’re interested in the property. If you move out and stop making payments, that might signify that you don’t care about this asset and it could potentially be given to your spouse.
Instead, continue to make house payments whether you remain living there or not.
As for where you want to live, you may want to consider proximity to your children’s schools and your work. Do you want to live in this home long after the divorce is finalized? Or start fresh somewhere new?
6. Create a Post-Divorce Budget
It’s never too early to create a rough budget for after the divorce.
You may not know all the exact numbers right away, but you can estimate where possible. You should compile a list of your expenses, including any additional ones from the divorce (spousal support, retainer fees, etc.).
Doing this in advance can help your attorney get you a fair settlement. Knowing how much you need to maintain your quality of life informs how much to ask for.
Creating this budget might result in you realizing that you need to get a second job or sell some assets.
Your life is going to change after the divorce, not in the least your finances. Being prepared will eliminate some of the stress that may come after filing.
7. Find Your Support System
Before you file for divorce, you need to have a support system in place.
Divorce can be an emotional and traumatic life event. You may be excited to be out of the marriage or deeply upset by it. No one would be surprised if you need some extra support.
It’s best to seek support outside of your ex-spouse’s family and friends.
Here are some options for finding support:
- Therapy or counseling
- Community center divorce support groups
- Online forums for divorcees
Be open to talking with acquaintances who have gone through this before. Positive and encouraging influences will make the transition into your new life smoother. For instance, if you decide to change your name after the divorce, let your friends or family help you with the name changing process and make it less painful.
Still Not Sure What to Do When Getting a Divorce?
The filing process can be stressful and tiring, depending on your case. Having the things mentioned above in order before you file will remove some of that stress.
It’s never too early to get organized with your finances and your goals. What is your best possible outcome? What do you want to happen?
Making a plan allows you to focus on something productive.
For more information about what to do when getting a divorce and how to file for divorce, check out our blog.