If I had a dollar for every time I was asked whether a person should file for divorce or not, I’d be vacationing in Hawaii right now. Even though I would never accept the dollar, I still cannot answer the question because it’s a very personal decision. Once you’ve decided that the marriage is irreconcilable, however, it’s probably a good time to prepare before the divorce filing.
There are many things one can do to prepare before filing for divorce, depending on their circumstances. Here are some general tips:
- Begin the separation. While you do not necessarily have to move out of the marital home before filing, consider commencing the separation in other ways. Open a bank account and credit card in your name alone if you do not already have them. This is will ultimately prove valuable if you depend on your spouse and they try to cut you off. If you and your spouse share a phone plan, consider getting your own. It’s typically not a good idea to allow your spouse to have unfettered access to your call and text records while going through a divorce.
- Save your money. Divorce can be, and usually is, expensive. You will need money to keep you afloat until a support order or settlement agreement is issued by the court (assuming you are the supported party). You may need to move into a new residence. How about some new items, such as furniture and appliances? Make a spreadsheet of all your monthly expenses and determine how much money you need every month prior to the support order going into effect, which could take several months after the divorce case is opened. Many individuals going through a divorce tend to rack up a lot of debt in the beginning of the process. If you have good credit, you may need to rely on credit cards. If you have poor credit, start working on building your score up so that you can rely on credit in times of need.
- Hire an attorney. Whether it is you or your spouse who has the funds to retain an attorney, think twice before attempting to go through this on your own. Hiring an attorney early in the process can maximize settlement opportunities before things get ugly (and expensive). Further, having an advocate by your side will alleviate the burden of stress and time that can be redirected to other areas to help you advance through this chapter in your life. Interview several firms before deciding on one.
- Collect financial documents. Make copies of all your important financial documents. You will want copies of tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and credit card statements to name a few. Keep these in a safe place in the event your spouse goes on a seek and destroy mission.
- Develop a support network. Going through a divorce is tough. Having an available network of family, friends, and professionals during this time can make all the difference. Reach out to your network regularly. Being able to speak with someone will help alleviate the emotional burden.
If you have children, you may find our following blog post useful: Divorces and Your Child: Mistakes to Avoid.
If you are looking for a family law firm in the San Diego area, contact one of your attorneys today for a complimentary consultation (new clients only).