26 May 24 Hours to Prepare for Divorce
Divorce is a difficult, emotionally draining and time intensive process for everyone involved. Although we all would like to think our marriages will last forever, sometimes it simply does not work out. In fact, up to 40% of married couples end their marriage in divorce. Acquiring a divorce that is clean, quick and efficient can help an individual get out of a bad living situation, or just protect them from unfair settlement agreements. Being thoroughly prepared for a divorce before filing for one is of the utmost importance, as it will help you gain that quick, clean and efficient divorce you desire.
Have a Strong Understanding of Your Finances
Having a strong grasp on your personal finances is perhaps the most important thing you will need to do before filing for a divorce. To do this, you will need a detailed account of your bank accounts, loans, investments, and purchases. Finances are the most complex issue you will tackle in the divorce proceedings, and having a clear account of them will help your attorney fight for you to the best of their abilities. Additionally, if your spouse has a firm grasp of their financial situation as well, the proceedings will be able to occur in an even smoother manner. Sitting down with your attorney or personal banking staff can help make the process of compiling a complete history of your financial records much less stressful, and is highly recommended.
Know Which Physical Objects You Would Like to Keep
There are many objects and possessions you own that will not fall under marital property laws. While most assets that a couple owns must be divided in an equitable manner, some items, such as property acquired prior to your divorce are an example of an exception to this rule.
Do Not Attempt to “Hide” Assets
Although it may be tempting to try and hide valuable personal or financial assets from your spouse out of the fear they will be lost during the divorce, it is both illegal and not worth your time. Attempting to hide such assets will likely just hurt your case, in the long run, making it much easier for your spouse to take hold of those assets. Additionally, divorce courts require that both you and your partner disclose all assets, bank accounts, and investments. If you fail to disclose all of these items, you set yourself up for legal troubles outside of your divorce. Sitting down with your divorce attorney and looking over your disclosure documents can help you ensure that have not accidentally left out information that could get you into legal trouble.
Know What Your Spouse Has
However, you should not only focus on your disclosed assets, but also those of your spouse. If you have reason to believe that your spouse may be unlawfully failing to disclose finances and assets, you should contact your divorce attorney immediately. With their training and experience in this field, they will help uncover any discrepancies in your spouse’s financial and asset records. Once again, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that both you and your spouse’s records be as complete as possible, so reporting a potentially unlawful report will help you avoid legal and financial trouble in the long run.
Begin an Outline of a Proposed Settlement Agreement
Once you have secured the financial, gift and asset records of your estate, it is time to start preparing your ideal divorce settlement terms. Having a settlement that both spouses can agree upon can help save you tons of time and money being wasted within the court system. Not every divorce will have the luxury of getting both spouses to agree in a mutual manner, however, so it is important that you and your attorney never make unneeded negotiations that prove unfairly disadvantageous to you.
Consider Future Custody Arrangements
The most difficult settlement will be regarding any children that were had in the marriage. Determining child custody, support and visitation rights is likely to provide the most conflict of any divorce arrangement. Thankfully, there is a wide variety of potential custody and visitation set ups for you and your spouse to consider.
In most cases, parents who both wish to maintain some form of custody of the children will split visitation into a system where one parent has the kids during weekdays while the other has them on weekends and holidays. Although this is the most common scenario, you and your spouse should ultimately decide what situation works best for both of you.
Consider Fitness of Parent
If you have evidence that your spouse is unfit to hold custody of your children, you should make your attorney aware of it immediately. When a spouse can be proven to be a drug abuser, emotionally/physically abusive or even severely financially unstable, you can use this evidence to try and gain full custody of your children. Although it may be hard to separate your children from one of their parents, you will know whether or not this arrangement will be in the best interest of your child’s future.
When finding yourself on the flip side of this situation, where a spouse is claiming that you are unfit to hold custody, you should sit down with your attorney and make a thorough legal plan. Custody battles are by far the most stressful and hard divorce procedure you will potentially have to face, and it is important you are prepared to the best of your abilities to handle the situation. Your attorney will help you make informed, logical and beneficial decisions while helping steer you clear of emotionally charged actions that may hurt your case for custody of your children in the long run.
Have Your Attorney Do Support Calculations
No matter what terms you and your spouse come to regarding child custody, you will likely need to consider child support payment plans. If the spouse in custody of the children is put at a major financial disadvantage due to your separation from them, you will likely be required to send them child support payments to help ensure a stable living environment for the children. Even if you lose all legal custody of the children, you may still be required to provide financial support in the form of child support payments.
Although not as stressful as the custody of your kids, the settlement terms you will draft up with your spouse regarding distribution of assets and liabilities can be equally as frustrating. Sitting down with your attorney, your spouse and their attorney to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement will once again keep you out of court as much as possible. The longer your marriage has lasted, the more assets and liabilities you will have to split up.
In this stressful time, you must always keep the future in mind, whether that be the future of yourself or your children. Everyone hopes for a reasonably clean divorce, but not everyone is given that luxury. A talented divorce attorney is the best asset you can have during a divorce, and they will help guide you through the complex ins and outs of the legal guidelines regarding divorce. Additionally, they will help provide the emotional support you will likely need during this emotionally draining time. No matter how messy your divorce may become, preparing yourself to the best of your ability before filing the divorce will help you out immensely in the long run.
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