Rumor has it that the first of the year brings with it a run on divorce lawyers’ offices as realizations that a marriage isn’t living up to life desires and/or goals become intensified with the passing of yet another year. While you may desire to have a fresh start, you must make sure to make your decision after fully considering what you want your future to look like and whether divorce is the right option for you..
Before making your decision, there are three (3) things to consider:
1. Do you have a full understanding of your financial situation?
a. Have you gathered your tax returns and W-2s, or that of your spouse?
b. Have you determined your projected financial needs for your post-separation lifestyle?
c. Have you determined the assets you own and made a listing of them, making copies of the proofs of ownership where you can?
d. Have you determined what retirement assets you are entitled to receive, making copies of the proofs of ownership where you can?
e. Have you determined your insurance policies and the beneficiaries of the policies?
f. Do you know the provider of your car, health and life insurances, and have you made copies of the policies?
g. Have you made copies of all bank records in the house?
h. Have you taken record of all businesses and additional income your spouse holds?
i. Have you obtained proof of all property you owned prior to marriage, which items you want to claim as separate and which you claim your spouse is not entitled to receive?
j. Have you ensured that your spouse is not incurring debt for which you may be responsible by using your credit to finance non-marital expenses?
k. Have you established your own credit?
2. Where are you planning to live during and after the divorce?
a. It is not a great idea to move out of the home you share with your spouse until you consult an attorney to discuss the financial implications of leaving the home.
b. Leaving the home may have an impact upon your claim for custody of your children. It may also impact the amount of child support you will be required to pay or the amount you may be awarded from your spouse.
3. Are you seeking custody of your children?
a. Are there any behaviors that your spouse is engaging in which you believe endanger your children? These behaviors need to be logged or reported to the authorities.
b. Have you fully thought out a custody arrangement that would work for your children?
c. Are you able to co-parent with your spouse? If not, be prepared to tell the attorney why.
d. Are you seeking to reside in the same state in which you currently reside? If not, what is the basis for your request to move and what support networks do you have in the state to which you desire to move.
4. What is your support network?
a. Do you have friends, a pastor, a social worker or other supportive person or entity which can help you get through this time? Divorce can be emotionally complex, and you will need support from others to get through this time.
5. Visit an attorney to discuss your legal options. Before you hire anyone, be sure that the person you select is someone with whom you can work. Be sure that the person answers your questions in a considered fashion and that they are not just telling you what you want to hear. Most of all, before you go forward, be sure that you truly want to be divorced and that you have prepared yourself for the journey it takes to free yourself of an unhappy marriage.