It only seems like yesterday that you lovingly said “I do,” and now, nothing you have ever done in your life has prepared you for what you are facing. The anger, the frustration, the possibility of losing your children. What about the possible implications that may affect your business?
How do you even untangle a joint bank account you’ve had together since forever? How do you handle all these emotionally, financially, and logically all at the same time?
All these are questions that deserve straight answers. Filing for divorce can be one of the most monumental life decisions, and it’ll come with lifelong consequences, especially if you have children involved. Apart from the emotional turmoil that will get in the way of rational thinking, you are bound to face hurdles and obstacles that will leave you completely drained.
For these reasons, we have come up with a list of things you should consider taking care of before filing for the divorce.
These will possibly make the process easier for everyone and lessen the impact that would come with an otherwise messy divorce. There may not be a win-win situation in a divorce setting, but there are decisions that could place you in a financial advantage, more so if you are the one filing.
1. Consult a Divorce Lawyer
While you may not need to retain a divorce attorney before filing for divorce and informing your spouse about it, consulting with one would be in your interest. What this does is offer you realistic expectations about what will happen if you file first. A divorce attorney will advise on what steps to take depending on your situation, and tell you what matters you should discuss with your spouse.
One of the perks of filing for divorce is the fact that you can arm yourself with a team of qualified experts in advance. Filing first essentially means you’ll have enough time to retain the right people. Having a professional divorce attorney, an experienced divorce financial planner, and possibly a compassionate therapist will go a long way.
Filing to divorce first also comes with the benefit of interviewing attorneys first. In case your spouse is against the divorce, they could “conflict out” all the best lawyers in your area to spite you. All they have to do is to meet all of them and establish a client-attorney relationship, which would prohibit them from representing you.
While it would be easy for both you and your spouse to settle the divorce without litigation, filing for divorce in court may be necessary, and it pays to be ready.
2. Get Your Financial Documents in Order Before Filing for Divorce
Most divorce cases rely heavily on documentation. This may include bank account records, mortgages, phone records, and car leases.
If possible, gather as many documents that would be relevant to the divorce before you file for divorce. Make copies of everything your attorney feels is appropriate.
If there is one thing you can be sure of, is that once you file for the divorce, your spouse will make you chase whatever documents they get a hold of, or deny you access. If you are filing for divorce in court, then you do not see eye to eye, and they may not be as cooperative as you would like. There are a lot of other things you can include in your divorce checklist, so make copies and keep them in a secure place before filing.
Understand your financial situation to ensure you get an equitable distribution of both assets and debts. Determine everything you own, from property to vehicles, pension plans, inheritance, and more. From here, determine what you owe by getting a credit report.
3. Deciding Where to File for Divorce
In general, you can file for your divorce in the jurisdiction in which you or both of you live. You see, if you live in different states, you can file for the divorce in the state that suits your interest. You could be surprised at the difference in divorce laws in different states regarding child custody, spousal support, property division, among others.
Jurisdiction will certainly have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case, so consult your attorney about your options. Different states have a required amount of time to be a resident before filing for divorce, but you can easily arrange where the case will be heard. In Nebraska, you or your spouse must be a resident of Nebraska for at least 1 year before filing your divorce with the court.
4. Determining Your Custody Goals
If you have children, they should be a top priority in your divorce battle. It’s a high possibility that you and your spouse will get joint custody, so review your work schedule and the kids’ schedule to gauge what’s suitable custody schedule for you.
Filing for divorce first places you in an advantageous situation, because you’ll be prepared, and you’ll have custody suggestions ready for your spouse. If there is one fair consideration you should make, it’s not denying your children the right to see their parent.
So, think about the kids before yourself in this case. Still, it’s possible to win children’s custody, depending on your situation.
5. Making Any Necessary Purchase or Sales
A lot of people use this step to take advantage of their spouse, which is not always a good thing because they take too much and leave the scraps for them. You may have come to a bitter end of your marriage, but you have certainly spent good times together. Unless you do personally have rights to certain assets that your spouse does not, you should try to be fair in property division.
That said, in most jurisdictions, you’ll find that the judge prohibits selling or buying items once a divorce has been filed. This prevents bitter spouses from draining the banks or selling the most valuable assets. If you have a project you have been planning to complete or an asset you have been pining for, this is a good time to invest in it before the funds are held up.
6. Closing All Your Joint Credit Accounts
If it’s possible to close joint accounts before filing for divorce, it will make the process a whole lot easier. If you can, pay off and close the accounts, which will keep both you and your spouse from using the accounts and running up charges.
If it’s impossible to make the payments, you may need to have the accounts frozen. You may lose access to the accounts, but this will protect you in the end because, after the divorce, the account will be transferred to the person responsible for the debt. If the responsibility falls on your spouse, their payments or lack thereof will not affect your credit score.
Besides this, pay all credit cards in advance because your divorce proceeding could go on for months, and if you forget and miss a payment, it will undoubtedly hurt your credit score in the future.
7. Making a Post-Divorce Budget
Regardless of how long it will take, eventually, the divorce will come to an end, and you’ll start living separate lives. Figure out your cost of living and what will happen to you and the children after all this is over. Even if you have a job, your income alone may not be able to sustain you, especially if you relied heavily on your spouse.
It’s advisable to figure out a budget by estimating all possible expenses and come to a conclusion about how much income you’ll need. Armed with this information, you’ll also be in a better position to negotiate a settlement during the divorce.
8. Developing a Support Network
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking support because the divorce will undoubtedly leave an emotional toll on you. You have no idea how your spouse will take it and how they’ll react, and they may catch you by surprise and throw you roadblock after roadblock before granting you the divorce. What if they figure out a means to take the children away from you?
What if they refuse to settle? Are you prepared for anything that might come? You need a support system that will get you through this.
Let your friends and loved ones know that soon you’ll be needing them for moral support and advice.
It helps to have a therapist or any other mental health professional on call because having emotional stability is critical in order to make smart decisions during the divorce.
Are You Ready To Make Decisions!
Are you filing for divorce but conflicted about making all these decisions? Would you like a professional guide to get the best possible outcome from your divorce? Call Husker Law today at (402) 415-2525 to ensure you obtain the most trusted divorce legal counsel in Omaha NE!