If you’ve decided that you want a divorce, you may want to start the proceedings as soon as possible. But before you ask for a divorce, there are a few key things that you should do to protect yourself and your financial future.
1. Find a Good Attorney
The first and most important thing you need to do is hire a good attorney. No matter how long you’ve been married, how little property you have, and even if you have no children, hiring an attorney is essential.
Debt, pension funds and retirement plans will likely be divided between you and your spouse. Even the most modest of couples typically have at least a few assets and liabilities. Hiring an attorney will make sure that you avoid any errors that could wind up costing you in the long run.
2. Know Your Financial Situation
Before asking for divorce, it’s also important to understand your financial situation. If you don’t already know, you should find out how much your spouse earns each year. Check a recent paystub or your most recent tax return to find this information.
If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, you also want to realistically determine how much you can earn after the divorce. If necessary, take the time to update your skills, or enroll in special training courses to make yourself more marketable before you even bring up the topic of divorce.
Find out as much information as you can about your family’s assets. For most couples, this step is relatively simple. You likely have a house with a mortgage, a car, retirement plan or pension, and maybe a little savings. However some families have more complex assets. Businesses that were created during the marriage have assets that will also need to be valued.
Know your financial situation, so you can set yourself up for success after the divorce.
3. Assess Your Family’s Debt
It’s equally important to assess your family’s debt. In many cases, it’s more difficult to allocate debt than it is to divide assets. Which debts are yours? Do you have personal loans, credit cards, car loans?
Determine your family’s debts before filing for divorce, so you know exactly where you’ll stand financially after the two of you part ways.
4. Determine Where You’ll Live After the Divorce
If you plan on moving out, it’s a good idea to figure out where you will live after the divorce. Determine how much it will cost monthly to not only pay your rent or mortgage, but also pay your household bills.
Think twice about moving in with a romantic interest, even if that was the reason for the divorce. If you have children, your spouse may become irate at the idea of bringing the children to the home with your newfound partner. This could complicate the divorce, and make the entire process more stressful than it needs to be.
5. Start Saving Money Now
If you’re currently unemployed, you may consider taking steps to find employment and start saving money now, so you’re prepared for life after the divorce. If need be, wait six months to a year to allow yourself to build a financial cushion for after the divorce.
6. Build Up Your Credit
If you don’t have any credit in your name, start applying now. You may be able to get credit cards based on your spouse’s income, and you will likely need credit in the future. Use your cards instead of cash, and pay off the entire balance each month.
7. Determine How You’ll Tell Your Spouse and Children
The final thing you want to do before asking for a divorce is determine how you’ll tell your spouse and children. How do you anticipate your spouse reacting to the news? Depending on your situation, it may be better to break the news in a public place or with the help of a therapist. It may also be wise to seek the help of a professional when telling the children about the divorce.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with high asset divorces. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Divorce blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.