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PLANNING FOR DIVORCE
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” ~~ Alan Lakein
Preparing for a divorce is an intense and involved process. It is critical that you understand your financial wealth and what effect divorce will have on that wealth. Gathering and copying all documents that pertain to assets and savings is critical. You should collect copies of pay stubs for both you and your spouse. You should have copies of tax returns, preferably for every year of marriage. If your spouse is self-employed, it is critical that you collect copies of all documents related to income and expenses.
You should inventory the content of your home. If there are items with intrinsic value, you should know the value.
You should be familiar with the cost of running your household, as well as the amount and nature of any debt that you or your spouse may have. Documents related to debt should also be copied, including credit card statements, car loan documents, and the like.
Each divorce is unique, and the preparation necessary must be tailored to your particular circumstances. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney about how to prepare for your divorce BEFORE you speak to your spouse.
“Knowledge is power” ~~ Francis Bacon
Domestic Relations laws and social norms regarding divorce keep changing. What you think you know may not be the case at all. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney and get to know the laws governing property division. It is wise to understand what is marital property and what is not. You should know what happens to retirement assets upon divorce. You should be informed enough to make an intelligent decision about what is in your children’s best interest with regard to physical and legal custody. Alimony continues to be a controversial issue and is very fact specific. You should have an informed opinion about whether alimony is an issue in your case. You should know what happens when marital property is comingled with non-marital property. You should know what effect the title of property has on whether the property is marital or not. In a consultation preparing for divorce, you should consider each item of property, where the money to acquire the asset came from, if it was comingled with other property, and how each item of property should be divided.
Don’t base your understanding and decisions about your divorce on what you learned from your buddy or next-door neighbor. Each decision in a divorce is dependent on facts unique to that divorce. Don’t make assumptions.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~~ Alexander Graham Bell
Preparation is vital. Take your time. While you may be anxious to get it done, it is more important to plan it out. A successful divorce (not much litigation where you achieve the goals you set out) may take time. Make sure you have money. If you want custody of your children, you need to learn what the court considers when awarding custody. You may need to make a calendar. You may need to become more involved with your children. If you want to receive alimony, or if you do not want to pay it, there may be things that you can do ahead of time to help influence the likelihood of an alimony award.
“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” ~~ Johann Wolfgang von Goeth
When people are angry, they are more inclined to fight. Fighting with your spouse is exactly what you need to avoid as you prepare for divorce. If you begin to talk to your spouse about divorce when the relationship is full of hostility, your divorce is likely to be full of hostility. Of course, chances are that you want a divorce because the marriage is full of anger and tension, but it is critical to back away from these negative hostile feelings. In fact, as you plan your divorce, identify goals and plot the course. You will most likely find it easier to avoid arguing with your spouse. As your plan becomes more specific, you will most likely begin to emotionally separate from the marriage. The emotional separation will help calm the hostility.