Preparing for Divorce
If you are considering a divorce from your spouse, you need to take a few steps to prepare for the actual process of getting a divorce. You will need several things in place to make your divorce less stressful and place you in a stronger position in the litigation. First, you will need a place to live if you are planning on leaving the marital home, you will need money to live on and pay for your attorney, you will need transportation, and you will need support from either friends, family, and/or professional counselors.
- A Place to Live: If you will be staying in the marital home with your children, then you will need to figure out a way to keep paying on your mortgage at least for a few months. Most spouses will not continue to pay for a house they are no longer living in without a court order, and it generally takes a few months to get a judge to order that your spouse help you with your expenses, if the judge orders that at all. If you leave the marital home, you will need to find a place to live that has suitable accommodations for your children. The Court does not like to have children sharing rooms with parents, and if the children are older, it does not like children of the opposite sex sharing a room. The Court also does not like children going to apartments or houses where there are a bunch of roommates, because it is too difficult to gauge whether those roommates are appropriate to have around the children. If you do have roommates, make sure your children have their own rooms with a private bathroom and living area. Your best course of action is to get your own place.
- Money: Divorce is a very emotional separation. I recognize that in some situations, you just need to get out to protect your physical or emotional health, and there is no time to plan. It’s ok, we can figure that out later. But, if you are considering divorce, and you are still living with your spouse, you need to plan for how you will live. Open a separate bank account at a new bank where neither one of you has an account. Take some of the funds you and your spouse have earned during the marriage, and put it in that new bank account. In order to know how much you will need, consider that you will need to pay for housing, food, gas, utilities, car payment, an attorney, credit cards, other monthly bills, and any other regular expenses. If you are in a position where a court will award you alimony, you still need to have some money set aside because the court can take several months to hear your case for alimony, and even then, may not award you what you need, especially if you and your spouse are currently suffering financial hardships. Deciding how much money to set aside is a difficult decision. I cannot tell you how much to set aside. I can suggest you consider two factors: Number one, if you do not set aside money for your divorce, when you file for divorce your spouse will likely take you off of all the joint accounts and cancel your joint credit cards. Number two, if you take all of the marital money, the court will likely be unhappy with you at some point. You should consider speaking with an attorney to get an idea of how much money you can take without hurting your divorce case. Finally, make sure you only spend money on essential items and services to avoid being accused of squandering marital funds. If you keep an accounting of where the funds are spent, it will go a long way toward showing the court that you did not take the money with malicious intent.
- Transportation: If you plan on keeping custody of your children while you are in the process of getting a divorce, make sure you keep the car that can transport all the children. The court will ultimately divide all of your assets between you and your spouse, but you want to make sure you have reliable transportation sufficient to transport your children if necessary while the Court figures out who should have what property.
- Support: Most people who file for divorce do not consider the emotional strain it can have on them. If they do think about the emotional strain, they do not consider how those emotions can negatively affect their divorce. Most attorneys do not provide resources to their clients to help them cope with the emotional aspect of a divorce. Many people end up paying their attorney way more than they should because they use their attorney as a psychologist. Unfortunately, their money is wasted because attorneys are not psychologists. If you are already seeing a counselor or psychologist, continue seeing that counselor. I like to give each of my client’s resources so that they can cope with the emotional strain of a divorce without negatively affecting the outcome. I suggest exercise, psychologists, ecclesiastical leaders, spas, family, fun activities with your children, and other support that will help you cope with the emotional aspect of a divorce. Let your divorce be the first step toward a brighter future, not the last step of an unsuccessful relationship.