Marriage is one of the major life decisions and people take vows with forever in mind. Unfortunately, not all marriages last forever because many couples tend to fall apart after a few years. What ensues in most cases is a bitter divorce, along with long courtroom battles for custody, alimony, and joint assets. In some situations, everything happens amicably and the partners continue to be cordial towards each other for a lifetime. Whatever your case may be, you can expect divorce to be painful and complex. It isn’t a decision that you should take overnight. Rather, there are several considerations that you need to bear in mind before taking the leap. Here are the ones to consider before you file.
Be Sure That You Want A Divorce
Ending a marriage isn’t easy and the decision is bound to be an emotional one, particularly if you have been together for years and share a family. It doesn’t make sense to make up your mind without thinking it out carefully. You should have solid grounds for such a life-altering decision. Before you file, ensure that you have exhausted all hope and possibilities of reconciliation. Once you send the papers to your spouse, going back on the decision may get tough, even if you change your mind. Consider marital counseling before you file because it may save your relationship.
Develop A Support Network
Divorces often get ugly and tough, specifically when the partners are not on good terms. You cannot expect to go through the trauma alone because the emotional toll can be immense. There are personal feelings to deal with and things can get tricky if you have to handle kids as well. Having a proper support network is something that can give you the strength to get through a tough time. A therapist can help, though you can even lean on to a friend if you cannot afford professional help. Let your family and friends know what you are going through and that you will need their advice and moral support.
Connect With An Attorney
Once you are sorted on the emotional front, the next obvious step would be legal assistance because divorce involved litigation. You will need a professional who can represent you in the court and complete all the proceedings. It would be best to connect with seasoned family law attorneys and choose someone skilled, experienced, and empathic.
For more complex cases with messy asset division, alimony, and child custody, you will have to collaborate with a lawyer who has relevant experience. Make sure that you can trust the professional enough to handle the litigation that will change your life forever.
Assess Your Custody Goals
Things are not easy for couples with children because they have to deal with their custody situation when getting a divorce. Typically, you will have to share custody of the children with your spouse unless there are extreme circumstances. You must assess your goals clearly, considering factors like your work schedule, living arrangement, and upcoming financial situation to decide your custody goals. If there are major issues with your spouse, you may also have to fight a custody battle which can turn out to belong and ugly. There could also be the issue of child support to deal with, so having a clear plan right from the start is valuable.
Gather Important Financial Documents
Documentation is a key aspect of divorce cases. You will need to have your financial account records, mortgages, phone records, and car notes in place before you even file. If you and your spouse keep the records together, make copies before you meet the attorney. Don’t forget to get records of the shared online accounts. Gathering records before filing is all the more important if you don’t expect divorce to happen on amicable terms. Your spouse may withhold the documents after getting the papers, so it makes sense that you have them ahead of time.
Prepare A Marital Balance Sheet
Gathering your paperwork is only half the work done as you will also need a marital balance sheet that gives a complete and accurate view of your debts and assets. Hiring an accountant for the job is a good idea if you own multiple joint assets and debts or do business together. Ensure that the balance sheet includes all details, from your real estate to cars, bank accounts, retirement accounts, mortgages, notes, credit cards, and any other assets and liabilities. It will give you a fair idea about the marital estate and its division. Further, you will get a picture of the financials so that you can plan the expenses for the litigation and hiring your attorney.
Discuss Your Joint Bank Accounts And Credit Cards With Your Lawyer
If you have joint financial accounts and credit cards, you can expect financials to get complicated. The best approach would be to discuss them with your lawyer and seek counsel about closing the accounts or leaving them the same before you file. You wouldn’t want to risk your spouse draining the bank accounts or running up bills in your name because such situations do come up when couples aren’t on good terms. The attorney can best guide you about the feasible alternative, whether you should divide the accounts, close them, or simply leave them the same before you file.
Figure Out Your Living Situation
Divorce proceedings may take months to complete and you may not want to live with your spouse under the same roof. Things will obviously change once the litigation is complete. So you will have to decide your living situation during and after the procedure as well. The partners may agree mutually, whether they would continue living in the joint house together or one of them would move out. If there isn’t an agreement, you will have to seek advice from your lawyer on handling the situation.
The phase after filing and before the closure of divorce is a crucial one and you need to tread carefully. Negative behavior and actions can make your case unfavorable, which is the last thing you would want to happen if you are fighting for alimony or child custody. Consulting your attorney at every stage can save you from trouble and take the case in the right direction.