Your Pre-Divorce Checklist
Nobody goes into a marriage imagining that someday they will divorce, but it happens all the time. In fact, the American Psychological Association has stated that between 40 and 50 percent of all American marriages end in divorce. If you are considering divorce, it’s important for you to know you are not alone. It’s also helpful to be prepared for the legal process ahead.
Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally traumatizing event in a person’s life, but being prepared for divorce proceedings can help relieve anxiety and offer you some clarity on the path ahead. To that end, we have created a pre-divorce checklist to help you navigate this time in your life with as much ease as possible.
Consult With a Divorce Attorney
Once you have made the decision to get a divorce, you will want to consult with an experienced attorney to make sure you get the best advice on the do’s and don’ts of the divorce process before you initiate legal proceedings.
Evaluate your goals. Where do you want to be in your life a year from now? What about ten years? What kind of life have you envisioned for yourself after your marriage ends? This is definitely something you want to be thinking about (and likely have been thinking about), and you should share that vision with your attorney, so they can tailor their approach to suit your goals and vision for your future.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- What are your short-term goals?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What are your hopes for your children?
- What do you want for your relationship with your current spouse?
- How do you envision your family unit functioning beyond the divorce?
Collect Financial Records and Documents
Once you’ve considered your short and long-term goals and how you envision your life after divorce, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty, which will help you plan for the divorce and your future. Knowing what documents you need to have on hand and having information regarding your assets, property, insurance policies, and bank accounts at your disposal can be crucial. Consider gathering and keeping a record of the following:
- All marital assets and debts
- Bank statements
- Mortgage documents
- Retirement account statements
- Investment statements
- Credit card statements
- Social Security statements
- Tax returns for at least the past three years
- Life insurance policies
- Car titles
- Personal property such as vehicles, jewels, cash
- Separate property that you brought to the marriage, inherited, or were gifted
- A detailed budget including all of your current monthly expenses and documentation of income from any source
Think about whether you want to stay in the marital home or whether you plan to move out; however do not make this decision until speaking with an experienced divorce attorney - unless your safety or the safety of your children is at risk. Many spouses who are getting divorced desire to stay in the marital home, but keeping the home may be more difficult if you have to pay your own bills. You might need to consider downsizing for a period of time until you have more personal financial stability.
Protect Your Privacy
If you have social media accounts, make them private so people you aren’t friends with can see what you post, and be sure to change all of your passwords on your personal accounts. It’s also important to avoid posting anything about your spouse or anything that could be used against you in your divorce. Even seemingly harmless posts could potentially be taken out of context and used to discredit your case.
You should also consider opening a P.O. box. You might not want your spouse to encounter certain types of correspondence, such as correspondence with your divorce attorney. It’s a good idea to have your own mailbox to ensure your mail correspondence is private.
Open New Accounts
Open new checking and savings bank accounts that are solely in your name. It’s a good idea to have your own accounts where you can keep your own assets once the divorce process is over. However, you should not be transferring and large sums of money prior to filing for divorce.
Divorces can sometimes be expensive. Make sure you have access to your own savings account. If your spouse stops paying bills and moves out of the family home, you may need to be able to support yourself and the home temporarily and until you can get a temporary agreement or order, so it’s a good idea to have some money saved up for that very reason. You may also want to make sure you have access to a credit card and possibly open one for yourself.
Consider Your Own Emotional Needs
Going through a divorce can be incredibly challenging. It can be one of the most stressful periods of a person’s life. Because of that, you need to surround yourself with a support system. Make sure you have family, friends, therapists, counselors, and/or others around who you can turn to during this difficult time.
Consider Your Children’s Needs
Divorce can certainly have an impact on a child’s life, but there are healthy ways to navigate divorce that can help ensure your child’s well-being. It’s a good idea to make sure your child has the resources and support they need during this transition. Remember, you are getting divorced, but your children are not. Their sense of security is the top priority at all times.
It’s also a good idea to make notes about your child’s schedule, what their extracurricular activities are, and collect statements for any child care expenses.
Contact an Experienced Denver Divorce Attorney Today
No one should have to navigate the complex and sometimes overwhelming process of getting a divorce on their own. Our knowledgeable and compassionate Denver divorce lawyers at Halligan LLC will work with you to craft a legal strategy to help you accomplish your goals and live the life you envision for yourself going forward.
If you have decided to get a divorce and have questions about the legal process, contact our Denver-based firm today for a consultation. Call us at (720) 608-2361 or get in touch with us online today.