TOP 7 DIVORCE DOS
At White Oak Legal we created this guide to help you with 7 tips to make your Divorce easier. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions, and avoid common pitfalls. If you keep these Divorce keys in mind it will save you time, heartache, and money.
Here are our Top 7 Divorce Dos:
1. Copy, or better yet scan, all your important records.
During Divorce documents have a way of disappearing. Even if you aren’t leaving the house right away it is best practice to copy, or scan, all your important documents. These things include, but aren’t limited to, bank statements, retirement statements, Wills, deeds, credit card statements, loan documents, financial statements, etc.
You should make sure you take important documents where you need originals such as passports, and birth certificates.
If you don’t take the steps to secure these items while you still have access it may be difficult, or impossible, to get them later. This is especially true where old retirement accounts are at issue, and statements may not be available online. Following this simple step while you can will ensure we have the best information available.
2. Take everything you want from the house.
If you decide to leave the house then it is important you take all the things you want from the house when you leave. However, this is not to say you should leave your spouse in the house with only a TV table, step-stool, and an air mattress.
What we mean is that if there are things of particular importance to you such as family heirlooms, pre-marital property, jewelry, collectibles, passports, birth certificates, etc. Much like important important documents, as outlined above, things left in the possession of one spouse that are important to the other, have a way of disappearing.
If there are things you want, even if it means you have to rent a storage unit in the short term while you figure out future living arrangements, it’s best to take them with you. Make sure you document everything, record what you take, and record what you leave, in the house. If you don’t you may regret it later.
3. Be careful with whom you discuss the Divorce.
Friend groups are interesting and unpredictable in how they respond to a separation. There is no way to know for sure on which side a specific friend will lineup. That said, you should be very careful what you say and to whom. We’ve seen it more than one time where one friend relayed everything said by one spouse to the other spouse all the while pretending to be on the side of the sharer.
Things you say to, or do with, friends could seriously damage your case if they get back to your spouse. That said, our advice is to be very, very, careful what you say to friends. If you need to vent go to a therapist, and don’t make potentially damaging statements to friends, or on social media.
4. Go to a therapist.
Even if you are the one who decided to end the relationship go see a therapist-even if it’s only for a few sessions. Through the process problems will come up, and emotions will be high. A therapist can teach you tools for how to handle your own emotions, your spouse, and your children. A therapist is also key since we want to be careful what we say to friends as outlined above.
Your lawyer isn’t your therapist, your therapist is your therapist. Your lawyer is there to help you navigate your legal problems, but your therapist will help you navigate the emotions that you encounter as your case progresses.
5. Divorce isn’t quick or easy, so prepare yourself.
Settle in and follow the advice of your lawyer. Don’t expect settlements to happen over night. Divorce is complicated, and the court system is notoriously slow. Only in rare instances are divorces over in a month or two. As you keep that in mind make sure you take time for yourself, and don’t let the Divorce take over your life. It’s important to remain positive and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to have the commitment to get there.
Keep in mind that once the process is over you will be free to begin a new chapter in your life with new people and new experiences.
6. Avoid big financial moves before your settlement is finalized.
Major changes in your job or financial accounts can create big problems as you try to settle your case. If you change jobs to one that pays less you risk your spouse arguing that you intentionally suppressed your income. If you move around money, or spend a lot, you risk your spouse arguing that you are trying to hide funds, or, in the case of spending, you risk that you’ll end up owing your spouse more money than you have left on hand.
Best practice is to leave financial accounts alone absent some agreement, in writing, with your spouse to move them around. As with most things, this is fact dependent, so discuss any particulars of your case with your lawyer before you take any action.
7. Prepare a post Divorce budget.
It’s a fact that your financial situation will change after divorce. It unavoidable mathematical reality that two people can’t live the same lifestyle on the same amount of money in two different households. It’s best that you get ahold of this reality sooner rather than later so you can plan accordingly. Take a look at your current expenses using the documents you scanned from number 1 above, and think about how those expenses will change once you aren’t under the same roof with your spouse. This exercise will help you in settlement negotiations as you figure out how much money you can afford to pay, or need, in support. Proper planning prevents poor performance, and that can’t be more true than in this situation.
What do I do now?
This is just the beginning, but you’ve taken the first step: Education. We know you may be overwhelmed, but together we will develop a plan that fits your situation, and addresses your specific concerns.
Do you have more questions? Read more about many Divorce topics.