Divorce is rarely easy, but preparing for divorce can make the process easier. Steps can be taken prior to your divorce proceedings to help make the process as smooth as possible. You will not be able to predict every possible twist in your divorce, but there are some things that can be done in every situation in advance of your divorce.
Know What to Expect From Your Divorce
Understand what you can reasonably expect your divorce. You are not an attorney, but it can be helpful to do some basic research on divorce in your state. For example, if you have children, custody and child support issues will be significant in your case. If you have one or more high-value assets, know what is likely to happen to that asset, along with any other assets, in the property division in your divorce. Meet with an experienced family law attorney as early in the process as feasible to get an idea of what is reasonable to expect.
Start Saving Money
A divorce can be very expensive. This includes attorney’s fees, and the costs of establishing a separate residence, which in Maryland, is frequently a requirement before a divorce can be finalized. In preparing for divorce, it may be advisable to open a separate bank account. This is not intended to hide assets. Instead, it will give you access to necessary funds. Consider dividing joint accounts with your spouse. Also, consider canceling joint credit accounts or removing one party’s name from the account.
A word of caution: there is a difference between preparing for divorce, and preparing for divorce without telling your spouse of your intentions. Some of these actions will make it difficult to prepare for a divorce without informing your spouse. For example, you do not want your spouse to attempt to rent a car, only to discover that you have canceled the card. This is only the beginning of a long process. You do not want to antagonize your spouse unnecessarily.
Divorce can be a very emotional process and the time leading up to a divorce can be as well. Do not behave in a way that reflects badly on you. This is especially important in cases involving child custody disputes. A judge will be looking at your behavior when deciding custody and parenting time. Social media and digital behavior will also likely be monitored by your spouse’s attorney. If you behave appropriately in all aspects of your life, it will make the process go smoother. It will also help you achieve the results you are entitled to.
Discuss the Divorce With Your Children
Divorce impacts your children, not just you and your spouse. Discuss the process openly with them. Do not give them the details of your divorce. Do not disparage your spouse or discuss marital problems with your children. Make sure that they know the divorce is not their fault. Also, let them know that both parents love them and will always be available to them.
Take actions to prepare for a custody dispute. Begin a diary regarding your children. Document any medical and dental appointments and who attends. Document any interactions you have with your children’s teachers and other school staff. Write down who attends extracurricular activities. This diary is important to show how involved you are in your children’s lives.
Track Family Finances
In preparing for divorce, begin to keep track of your family’s finances. This should include your income and your spouse’s income. Also, document expenses, debts, and assets. Collect copies of all financial documentation possible. Include bank statements, credit card statements, income tax documents, pay stubs, property tax statements, and important receipts. Don’t forget about investments and retirement accounts.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be wise to keep copies of important documents outside of the home. Options include safety deposit boxes or with family and friends. It is important that you secure copies of these documents so you can provide them to your attorney in the future.
Seek Support From Friends
Do not shut yourself off from the world. It is important to continue socializing with friends and family. Inevitably, you will lose some of your social network when you go through a divorce. However, reach out to your friends and socialize before, during, and after your divorce. You do not need to discuss the details of your divorce with everyone, but it can be helpful and healthy to discuss your situation with family members or friends you know you can trust. This can include issues in your marriage and your potential divorce.
Remember that Each Person’s Divorce is Unique
Every person that goes through a divorce has a different experience. Every process involves unique circumstances and unique individuals. The parties are different, the attorneys are different, the judges are different and the circumstances are different. As previously discussed, it can be helpful to talk about your divorce with family or friends. Do not take their advice too seriously even though they may have gone through a divorce themselves. Instead, rely on the advice of your attorney. Your friends are not neutral observers with legal training.
Preparing for Divorce: Consult With a Family Law Attorney
Consulting with an attorney when you are preparing for divorce can be the best thing you can do. Many of your issues and concerns can be quickly resolved by meeting with an experienced, qualified family law attorney. Collect all documents your attorney needs as soon as possible. Your potential attorney should be able to provide you with a list of all documentation he or she will need to represent you.
Taking these steps prior to beginning a divorce proceeding can help make things go as smoothly as possible. They can also save you money in attorney’s fees. Every document you can collect ahead of time is one less document your attorney will have to obtain from your spouse’s attorney in the future.