When you file for divorce, you are asking the court to help dissolve your marriage. The actual paperwork is one of the easiest parts about filing for divorce. What’s difficult is actually sitting down with your spouse and dividing up assets and debts and determining child custody and support. Before you ever file for divorce, here are some steps to take that will help you through the process.
Gather Financial Documents
Get as much information as possible about your financial situation. You may need bank account statements, tax returns and income statements. It’s easier to get this information when you are living in the same house. Make copies of your mortgage, car titles, retirement statements and any other financial information you have. This information will help your attorney when you do file for divorce. Evaluate your joint accounts, but don’t clear out any money without discussing it with your lawyer. And you may also want to freeze personal accounts that your spouse has access too. At the very least, change passwords, PINs and secondary account identification to make it more difficult for your spouse to get in.
Determine Whether to Stay or Move Out
Moving out of your home can affect your divorce. If you move out and stop paying the mortgage, the judge may take that into account when making a decision about property distribution. You should discuss your situation with an attorney before moving out. You may still be expected to pay a portion of the mortgage until the divorce is finalized. You will want to document those payments. Your attorney can help you find the best solution for your situation.
Take the High Road
Although most states have a no-fault divorce, your behavior before and during the divorce proceedings could be used against you in determining child custody or in dividing assets. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t pursue new intimate relationships. Make sure to try and see your children as much as possible. Document everything, especially when you have conflict over visitation or bills.
Talk to an Attorney
Divorce is never an easy solution, but neither is staying in a bad relationship especially if you have children. It isn’t easy to go through divorce, but by taking steps to protect your rights and to learn your responsibilities, you can help the process go a little more smoothly.