If you are considering a divorce, but are putting it off over the holidays, you are not alone. While March holds the record for most divorces filed, divorce filings start to increase in January, and rise even more in February. Many people believe this is due, in part, to an unwillingness to begin divorce proceedings before the holidays. When planning for a divorce, there are several steps one can take in anticipation of meeting with a divorce lawyer. This planning will make your first meeting go smoothly. It can also reduce the cost of your divorce, as family law attorneys charge by the hour. Every document you secure ahead of time reduces the amount of leg work your attorney will have to do later. Here are some steps to take while preparing for a 2018 divorce.
Planning a 2018 Divorce – Reviewing Your Finances
A large part of any divorce proceeding revolves around the finances of the couple. Reviewing your finances with an eye towards divorce proceedings starts now. There are four areas of concern:
- Debts; and
Secure a copy of taxes filed by you and your spouse for the past several years. When detailing income, include salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, and stock options, as well as income from rental property and stock dividends.
Gather current and recent statements of all checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts. You will need bank account numbers, the identities of those on the account and those with signing privileges, and the balance of each account. Take a moment to detail automatic payments tied with these accounts, such as student loan payments, mortgage payments, and other bills.
Create a list of debts, including your mortgage, student loans, car loans, credit card debt, and debts owed to friends or family. The same level of detail applies as above – gather account numbers, those on each account, and balances.
Create a list of expenses, including costs of daycare, transportation, household bills, etc. Include both joint and individual expenses.
Planning a 2018 Divorce – Establish Your Own Credit
If you do not currently have credit in your own name, consider obtaining one or more credit cards now. Establishing your own credit history is essential for your future. You will need a credit history to purchase a car, rent an apartment, and secure a loan.
Planning a 2018 Divorce – Identifying Marital and Non-Marital Property
In divorce, all a couple’s joint possessions are divided equitably. Note, this is not the same as dividing all property evenly. However, not all property is subject to division. If you or your spouse has some property that is “non-marital,” this property will not be included in the divorce. Non-marital property may include land, a business, or an inheritance, along with other property one spouse owned before the marriage. A word of caution: “marital property” and “non-marital property” are subject to legal interpretation. Consequently, while it is helpful to begin the identification process, know your attorney will have additional questions to determine whether something truly is marital or non-marital property.
Planning a 2018 Divorce – Other Essential Documents
If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement, or modified either type of agreement, a copy of all documents pertaining to this is essential. Locate and create your own copy of these documents for your divorce attorney.
If You are Considering a 2018 Divorce
If you are considering a 2018 divorce, there are steps you can take now. Contact The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire P.A., P.A. at (561) 677-8090. We have over 30 years of experience guiding individuals and families through divorce proceedings.