As with many things, leaving a marriage can be more easily navigated if you have a plan in place. Divorce is never easy, but couples who have a practical approach to the process are in a better position to get through it with minimal anxiety and expense.
You may think the divorce process begins when you first file for divorce. However, the steps you take before this happens can have important impacts that you may not expect:
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce but have not yet separated, using this time to gather documentation of your shared assets can be advantageous. Once you are living in separate households, it will be more difficult to collect all of the necessary documentation. This should include financial records for the last three years, such as:
- Copies of income tax returns
- Property tax assessments
- Earning history
- Banking and investment statements
- Mortgage statements
- Household costs
Once you have separated, you‚Äôll need to ascertain your official date of separation. This is an important date to keep track of, as it will appear in your separation agreement. It‚ extremely beneficial if you and your spouse are on the same page about this date.
This may be the date on which one of you moves out of your shared residence. However, you can also be separated while still living in the same home. In this case, it is helpful to gather other evidence of your separation date.
You‚Äôll also want to cancel any joint credit cards, so that neither of you will be able to use those cards. Arrange with your spouse to pay off any remaining balance. If you have joint bank accounts, make sure that you both have online access to these accounts. This is important for transparency ‚ so that you can view any unusual transactions, such as large transfers from your joint account to an individual account. If such transactions are made after your official separation date, this could be used as evidence in your case. Safety deposit boxes may also pose a concern and should be emptied and closed.
There are many important considerations after you decide to divorce. An experienced lawyer can advise you on how best to proceed within the context of the law. Being prepared can make a stressful situation much easier to handle.