If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, you might be anxiously preparing how and when you are going to tell your spouse “I want a Divorce.” Or you might not be prepared at all and one day just blow up during an argument, announcing “I want a Divorce” without any forethought or planning. Before you say the words “I want a Divorce,” make sure you check the following items off your to-do list so that you and your attorney are as prepared as possible for the divorce process.
- Gather your documents. During your divorce, you must give your attorney all of your bank statements, tax statements, debt statements, real estate purchase statements, and other documents and evidence relevant to your case and financial circumstances. It is important for you to locate these documents and scan these documents to a secure, password-protected location (such as a Dropbox or Google Drive account) so that you can easily access them and send them to your attorney. Try to organize the documents in different folders for easy access and recall by you and your attorney. Organizing your documents and having them readily available to your attorney from the initial consultation will not only reduce your attorney’s fees, but it will also make it easier for your attorney to get you what you are asking for in the divorce.
- Change your passwords on your accounts and devices. You and your attorney will be communicating throughout the divorce process via email on your computer, tablet, or phone. You will have documents relevant to your divorce case on your devices as well. You want these communications and documents to remain secure from your spouse. The best way to do that is to change your passwords on your accounts and your devices. Pro tip – set up a free google account, giving you a new email address and access to document sharing and storage through Google Drive, so that you can communicate with your attorney without fear of your spouse reading your confidential communications.
- Video, photo, and secure your property. Many people are worried that once they move out of the house or leave their belongings with their spouse, those belongings will be thrown away or damaged by their spouse. The best way to ensure that your most important and sentimental belongings do not disappear during the divorce is to secure them in another location prior to announcing “I want a Divorce.” A court cannot give back your great grandma’s china that has been destroyed or thrown away (they can only give you money), so make sure you store sentimental items in a secure place to ensure you can enjoy them long after the divorce is over. I also advise my clients to video or photograph their personal items and residences so that they can prove the existence and condition of the items and residence should any damage occur or should items go missing.
- Make a budget. During your divorce, you will have to make a budget listing your assets and debts and file it with the court so the court can easily assess your financial situation. It’s a great idea to get a head start by making yourself a budget and quick list of assets and debts before you say “I want a Divorce.” This will also give you a clear picture of what you will need to make during and after the divorce process to maintain your same standard of living. Here is a link to the financial form we have to file with the court in all divorces. It’s best to start out by filling out this form as completely as you can to figure out what your income/expenses/debt ratio looks like (and bonus – you will spend less on attorney’s fees because your attorney won’t have to start filling out this form from scratch).
- Make an exit strategy. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that you may need an exit strategy after you announce “I want a Divorce”. Sometimes, a spouse will become violent when hearing those words. Other times, it is just plain uncomfortable to continue to live with your spouse while you are suing them in court for divorce. It is important for you to think of an exit strategy in case things go south. This may mean that you wait to speak to your spouse about a divorce until you are able to save some money or rent an apartment. This may mean you need to talk to close, trustworthy family or friends about staying with them to help you get on your feet. You will also want to talk to your attorney about how and when the divorce documents are served, so you can ensure everything is in place, and you are in control of the situation.
The divorce process can be a rollercoaster, and you cannot predict everything that you may encounter after you tell your spouse “I want a Divorce.” However, these 5 strategies should help you feel more in control of the situation and will help you get everything you deserve out of your divorce.
If you are thinking of telling your spouse “I want a Divorce,” fill out my intake form to schedule a consultation with me. I will help you develop a personalized strategy for getting your life in order before telling your spouse “I want a Divorce.”