Are you facing a divorce case? One of the most important keys to a smoother, less-stressful experience and a positive outcome is thorough preparation and readiness for what lies ahead. Here are nine steps you can take to get prepared for your divorce.
1. Retain an Attorney - Your choice of divorce attorney is extremely important, as you will be entrusting their legal ability with a large chunk of your future. It is strongly advised you interview several lawyers before making the decision as to which one you are most comfortable with and you believe will best represent you. It's best to retain an attorney who places a strong focus on communication.
2. Gather Your Financial Records - Gathering records is crucial to a fair and equitable outcome of the division of assets process. Make a list of everything you own and its present value, including all pieces of property like artwork, pension plans, inheritances, and any possessions you may still have that you brought into the marriage. Make a list of all debts you have acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name they are in. Do your best not to miss anything; intentionally concealing any possession info can lead to serious consequences.
3. Determine Your Income - Are you and your spouse salaried employees? You'll both need your most recent pay stubs, along with your last income tax returns. If one or both of you are self-employed, be sure to grab bank statements, business statements, and other financial documents to show how much money both of you have and let your attorney assist you with making a final determination.
4. Make a Budget - When you find out what your income will be after the divorce, as well as what assets are available to you, create a budget for your expenses and necessities, including where you will live. Be sure to budget for any new payments you will be required to make as part of a court order.
5. Establish Your Credit - If you don't have credit in your name, you should establish some as soon as possible. Apply for a card and use it then pay off the balance. Even if your card has a lower limit it can still help you build a credit usage level and history, which can bring your score up quickly and increase your ability to obtain a loan for something like a new car or home loan.
6. Protect Your Financial Assets - Do you fear your spouse may clean out your financial accounts? While you obtained documents earlier, your spouse could still go in and clean them out, leaving you out in the cold. If you fear this may happen, go to your bank, open an account in your name, then take half the funds from your joint account and put it in the new one. Do not hide this from your spouse, and keep a record of all your transactions for the court once you have done this.
7. Close Joint Credit Accounts - If you have credit lines open in both you and your spouse's names, close these accounts as soon as possible. It's not unheard of for spouses to run up the balances on these in a fit of rage, and since your name is on this credit line, you could be held responsible for it later. If you cannot pay off the balance of the card with what you have, then freeze the account as soon as possible.
8. Don't Move Out - Unless you do not care about your claim to possession of the family home, don't leave it, and continue to pay at least a portion of the mortgage. Moving out is usually not looked upon favorably by judges, and you should consult with your attorney if you are considering it; they will be able to advise you on the best plan of action. There is one exception to this rule: abuse. If you are being subjected to abuse, you should not hesitate to leave, and immediately report it to your attorney, who can take the necessary steps to protect you.
9. Behave Yourself – A divorce does not mean an automatic license to shirk your responsibilities and party like you have all the freedom in the world. While your case is proceeding, you should absolutely be on your best behavior, as your character and actions could be under a microscope. If you have children, keep them at the forefront of your actions and decisions, and spend time with them! And keep in mind your actions during the proceedings can reflect in the decisions and awards of your judge.
Are you preparing to go through a divorce case? Don't hesitate to contact a skilled Murfreesboro family attorney as soon as possible. Attorney David L. Clarke of The Clarke Law Firm proudly provides honest, straightforward representation for those in need of a marital dissolution. His detailed familiarity and in-depth knowledge of Tennessee family law is a valuable asset to anyone in need of family law counsel and representation both in and out of the family law courtroom.
Call The Clarke Law Firm today at (615) 645-1501 and schedule your free consultation today!