Published on 1/31/2018
All the Christmas decorations are up, the newness of the presents is fading, and you are settling into a winter routine. You can finally breathe. And you now throw yourself back into another distraction to avoid thinking about what you put aside for the holidays – Divorce. Perhaps you made the choice to stay so as not to disrupt the holidays. Perhaps you delayed the inevitable for the children. Perhaps you are waiting to see what your 2019 financial condition looks like. If you are now thinking about moving forward with divorce, there are some things to consider.
Gather all relevant information about your financial picture.
What does your marital estate consist of? Assets and liabilities. Make a list and gather supporting documents. You will need them. The house, retirement accounts, checking and savings accounts, college funds, vehicles, airline miles, investments, gun collections, jewelry, etc. Start a spreadsheet and list their approximate values. Then make a list of your liabilities. The mortgage, car loans, credit cards (you should now have the post-Christmas bills), student loans, personal loans. You get the picture. What is your financial condition? A full inventory will be needed to divide your estate.
What about your children?
Take inventory of your relationship with your children. Divorce is not an end to your family. It just changes the way it looks. If you are an involved parent, continue to stay involved but respect the relationship with the other parent. Make a note of who takes the children to the doctor, attends school events and appointments, participates in extra-curricular activities, and provides care for your children. Divorce does not need to leave your children with one parent. Rather, many parents find themselves to parent better post-divorce than when married. And remember, the other parent is in this for the long-run with you – school events, soccer games, graduations, weddings, baptisms, and all of life’s major events. Your children will appreciate the efforts of both parents to work toward their best interest now and in the future.
Watch your steps.
You are still married. Don’t get involved with someone else, and especially don’t take a new love interest around your children. It is not only damaging to your children, it can have an impact on custody. Don’t hide assets. It will be discovered and used against you. Do protect yourself. Make sure you have access and information about all assets and accounts. Don’t make major decisions about selling property or cashing in investments without the advice of an attorney. The division of your estate happens at the time of divorce, not before you file. Some divisions can create tax consequences and not all property is created equal.
Contact an experienced divorce attorney. Don’t try to do this alone or “pro se”. Not all marriages or relationships are the same, and there is no such thing as a cookie cutter approach to divorce. The length of your marriage, the nature of your assets and debts, the age and needs of your children, and the strengths and weaknesses of both spouses can impact your divorce and the rights and duties you will have after the divorce decree is signed. Do you want to keep the house? Place it on the market? What about dividing retirement assets? What about the children? Do you share decision making? Where will the children primarily reside? What about child support? What does your time with your children look like post-divorce. There are as many approaches to these issues as there are relationships. An experienced divorce attorney can help you put together the puzzle pieces of your future.