When you've decided to file for divorce, there are a lot of factors to think about. Here are some of the first steps you should take when planning.
1. Research Applicable State Laws
Laws in regards to family and divorce vary state by state. Make sure to research the laws applicable in your state. Becoming familiar with these laws will better enable you to complete the divorce paperwork to the satisfaction of the law.
Many family lawyers include up-to-date information regarding state family laws on their online blog. Generally speaking, this is a simpler and more succinct means of obtaining the information you need than sifting through statutes. It will also save you from seeking unnecessary and expensive legal advice.
Note that a legal separation from your spouse may have effects on the divorce process, and should take this into account as you move through the divorce planning process.
You will need the aid of a lawyer when the legal proceedings begin, so take note of any local family lawyers that appeal to you as you read through their blogs. Be sure to inquire about their hourly rate, number of years as an attorney, win ratio, and roughly how many hours they would intend to spend on your case.
2. Draft a Custody Agreement
If you and your partner have children together, it is wise to have an idea of how you would like to divide your parenting time in advance. Include reasons why you believe this is the best arrangement for all involved, particularly those affected who will not have their own say in the final decision.
Your first draft of a custody agreement doesn't need to be anything fancy (leave the legalese to your lawyer}, but should include a clear set of notes for how you would like to share the responsibility of your family. When drafting this, you should consider the hours you will be available to have your children in your care, any current daycare situation and work hours, and any commitments that your children may already have.
Be sure to consistently bear in mind what is best for your children.
3. Get Organized
Keeping yourself organized is a must while going through the unpleasant process of divorcing your partner. Your partner will likely have hard feelings toward you that may manifest in the form of false allegations, requests for exorbitant amounts of money or other unrealistic demands. Keeping an organized record of your day-to-day activities and finances could prove a valuable asset when negotiations commence.
4. Create a Budget
Following the decision to initiate the divorce process, you will likely be adjusting to a new life and expenses for a period of time of your legal separation and post-divorce. This means that you will be moving from a codependent financial situation to an independent one.
This sometimes drastic change to your finances may come as a shock and is best to move into prepared. Having a budget put together will give you an idea of what to expect and how to handle it diligently without going broke.
Your pre-divorce budget should outline your projected sources of income and expenditures following commencement of your separation period.
5. Conversations About All Joint Accounts
If it is possible to have a civilized discussion regarding the allocation of current funds, arrange a time to sit down and determine what portion of your joint liquid assets each person will get.
In some cases, one partner will attempt to empty joint funds into a separate personal account. If this is the case, or you think this may be the case, seek the advice of a legal professional in regards to an appropriate approach.
In any event, it is important not to intentionally deplete or make substantial changes to joint accounts without your spouse's consent. Strategize how you will maintain separate, individual accounts after you have filed for divorce.
6. Check Your Credit
Before going through with a divorce, it's good to pull a credit check on yourself to see where you are at going into the divorce process. A poor credit rating could become an obstacle when trying to buy or lease a new home or vehicle. In some cases, this may also be taken as a reference on your ability to care for your dependents.
If you pull your report and find the score to be lower than you'd like it to be, review it for debts that you are able to pay off now. For any substantial debts that you are unable to pay off right away, ca I] the creditor to work out a payment plan that will fit into your budget.
Planning on restoring your credit or paying off debts before filing for divorce may have substantial advantages.
You may also wish to speak with a financial advisor for tips on boosting your credit score. Work together to devise a goal score to have by the end of the trial separation year.
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