Attorneys are subject to a variety of rules, regulations, and stipulations when it comes to offering divorce and legal advice. Without an actual consultation, we can’t offer any concrete divorce legal suggestions. Beyond that, every situation is different. No single recommendation will fit every case. Without examining the specifics, it’s impossible to suggest how to proceed. However, there are ways to prepare for divorce in a general sense.
How Can I prepare for Divorce?
If you’re heading towards divorce, there are steps you can take ahead of time to streamline the process and better prepare. Not an all-encompassing list by any means, here are some actions you can take to simplify the divorce process and increase your chances for an optimal outcome.
Purely for informational purposes, this will hopefully provide a better understanding of how to prepare for divorce.
1) Educate Yourself
Depending on which state you live in, divorce laws vary a great deal. Perhaps the best piece of divorce and legal advice out there is to familiarize yourself with the specifics of your home state. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
For example, Oregon is an equitable distribution state. This means property acquired during a marriage is viewed as belonging to the spouse who earned it.
In a divorce, assets are divided in a fair and equitable manner between you and your ex. This is just one of many laws that may be different. It benefits you and your case to learn the particular regulations where you live.
2) Create A Plan For The Kids
If there are children involved in your divorce, things often become increasingly complicated. As this can be a long, contentious legal process, you may want to create a plan to make sure they’re cared for. Examine the rules and regulations governing child custody and child support in your state.
Your kids have the same needs and require the same care during and after a divorce as they did before. It may be in your and their best interest to prepare and implement a parenting plan during this time.
If nothing else, knowing they will be adequately looked after is one less detail for you to stress about in an already stressful time.
3) Set Aside Money For Your Divorce
Divorce can be an expensive proposition. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. At the very least, even in the most straightforward cases, there are fees for filing paperwork.
Divorce attorneys and legal advice don’t come cheap. It’s too easy to lose sight of the day-to-day expenses. And the more complicated the divorce, the more legal expenses you collect. Some examples:
- Appearing in court,
- Responding to motions,
- Temporary child support,
- Temporary spousal support,
- Mediators, among other expenses.
One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for divorce is to set money aside, whenever possible, to help cover unexpected costs.
Related Reading: Common Financial Mistakes People Make in Divorce
4) Get Organized
Divorce is a complicated process, and the devil, as they say, is very much in the details. Over the course of dissolving your marriage, the court will need access to various documents. Information flows between you, your spouse, attorneys, judges, and more.
You need to fill out forms, file claims, and respond to those filed against you. It’s possible you’ll face multiple appearances in court or with mediators.
Your schedule can quickly become an intricate puzzle of places to be and hoops to jump through.
Being organized throughout is a key part of preparing for your case. If everything is ordered and arranged, you won’t have to hunt for a particular form or stress out about when and where you have to appear. It may seem like a hassle at first, but being prepared is advice that will serve you well.
5) Get Your Financial Records In Order
An extension of being organized is to get your financial records in order. The division of property forms a significant chunk of the divorce settlement. This is where the court distributes all of the shared resources. As such, it has a huge impact on your financial future.
You must disclose all of your assets and debts, and it helps to have all the appropriate documents ready to hand over. This saves time and hassle.
- All of your known bank accounts,
- Pensions and retirement benefits,
- Insurance policies,
- Tax records for at least the past few years,
List all of your debts including:
- Including car loans,
- Credit cards,
- Student loans,
- Anywhere else you owe.
Collect all of your substantial assets like:
- Real estate,
- Other big-ticket items.
It may be helpful to break down your time, work, and financial contributions to the marriage. All of this influences how the court divides property in your divorce. Being organized will only be a legal boon and a key part of preparing for divorce.
6) Establish A Support System
Divorce may be the most chaotic, stressful, emotionally trying time of your life. Ending a marriage represents a titanic shift in your daily existence.
You may well need backup if you’re going to make it through in one piece. Even if you don’t want to broadcast the sordid details of your case, it may be nice to have a support system in place.
Knowing who you can turn to and rely on is important. For emotional support. For financial support. Instead of divorce or legal advice, maybe you just need someone to watch the kids while you meet with an attorney or appear in court.
This can be family, friends, or legal professionals. You can also turn to one of the many groups designed to help or offer advice to people going through similar divorce situations. Simply knowing you’re not alone can be a welcome sensation.
Related Reading: Should You Sell Your Home During Divorce?
7) Create A Plan For After Divorce
We’ve said it many times thus far, but divorce is a process. It is, however, one that ends. Stuck in the middle, it’s easy to become consumed and lose sight of what comes next.
There’s nothing wrong with simply wanting to get this over and done with and move on. At the same time, it’s never too early to consider the next step.
Think about what comes next.
The whole point of divorce is to move forward. Sometimes it’s enough just to move away from a negative situation. But what you’re heading toward is also important. Light at the end of the tunnel can be a huge motivating factor.
Beyond that, you have a lot to consider. Your tax status changes, you may face child or spousal support, or even just pay all of the bills from a single paycheck for the first time in years.
You may want to create a budget to regulate your spending or seek out financial, as well as legal advice during your divorce.
Getting a divorce doesn’t automatically impact the financial agreements you and your spouse entered into while married. If you don’t take steps to make sure these obligations are covered, it can negatively impact your credit.
If you have children, custody arrangements and parenting plans also play into your post-marriage life. And all of this is just the beginning.
8) Talk To An Attorney Early
This is vague and general and only provides a wider view of how to prepare for divorce. But if you enlist the services of an attorney to review your case, he or she can provide you with divorce-specific legal advice tailored to your situation.
In many cases, the earlier you do this, the better. If you’re considering divorce, you may want to consult with an attorney well in advance of any legal action. Maybe even before you discuss the specifics with your spouse.
It may seem like a good idea to talk to your spouse and come to agreements on a settlement ahead of time. Many people believe that the best divorce advice is to negotiate as much as possible in advance and then consult an attorney to get the stamp of approval.
But once you’ve agreed on things, it can be difficult to go back and change them. A lawyer may recognize and point out flaws or deficiencies you never considered. But you may encounter resistance in trying to alter your arrangement if your spouse believes you’re going back on the deal already in place.
Perhaps the best advice there is about divorce, legal or otherwise, is to be prepared. Familiarize yourself with the process, know what forms and documents you need and be as organized as possible.
Knowing what you want and what you’re willing to give up will go a long way toward helping you achieve your ultimate goals.