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divorce checklist

Going through a divorce can be confusing and hard to navigate so we have a checklist to help you through it. We’re in the heat of July, the country is reopening, and for many, this season is a brand new beginning. If you’re going through a divorce, this is a beginning — not an ending — for you, too!

We know that divorce can be personal, traumatic, and even scary. It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that this is not the best summer of your life. Fortunately, countless other people have faced exactly what you’re facing and have survived to tell the tale. We have some tips here to help you know just what to expect, what you’ll need and how to get to that light at the end of the tunnel — while hopefully being able to enjoy some summertime along the way. Still need some extra guidance? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


Do: Make a Checklist of Items You’ll Need

When it comes to divorce, we often think of dividing up income, child custody/visitation (if it’s relevant) and agreeing on who gets which possessions/how much money. But don’t forget that at its core, a divorce dissolves a legal agreement. Just like any routine government process — like licensing your car — there are items you’ll need. Here’s a starter checklist to help:

    • Full legal name
    • Social security number
    • Marriage certificate copies, along with your witnesses’ full names
    • Where and when you got married
    • Why you’re getting a divorce
    • Proof of employment, hiring date and income documentation
    • The best address to reach you and proof of residency in your state.
      Remember, this is where lawyers and other officials must be able to send you legal documents, or, if necessary, serve them to you. 
    • Documentation of past marriage counseling — or solo counseling if your spouse refused.
    • Any prenuptial/postnuptial agreements that have been in place
    • Any restraining order, visitation order or custody order that have been put in place

If this seems daunting, that’s why we’re here. We can go over these items with you and help you collect them one by one, as well as tell you when, why and how you’ll need them.


Don’t: Bring drama to the proceedings

At some point you’ll have to write the answer to, Reason for divorce? 

It can be tempting to bring all the dirty laundry. If you felt in danger or your spouse ever abused you verbally, physically or otherwise, these details are important. But if your reasoning for divorce is “He’s lazy and refuses to get a job,” remember that your attorney, possibly a mediator and maybe even a judge will later read your words. State your case professionally and be the bigger person. It could help you in the final ruling. 

Additionally, don’t make moves like falsely accusing your soon-to-be-ex of a crime they didn’t commit, or moving out unannounced with the kids. 

No matter how bitter the end to your marriage has become, making your divorce an all-out war will harm both you and your spouse in the end. If you have kids, you could severely and permanently damage them as well. You want the presiding judge to see your side, whether they’re signing off on your mediation agreement, or after a court battle. 


Do: Build a circle of support, seek therapy and outside guidance.

We’re here to help you with compassionate representation during your divorce and, if necessary, custody battle. We can also provide mediation and other alternative dispute resolutions in an equally compassionate and sensitive way. But let’s face it: There are times that you’ll want, even need, to air out that drama. For all the extra emotions that come with a divorce, find a therapist or clergy member who you can turn to and talk to during this time. Don’t be afraid to lean on your family members and a tight knit group of friends as well. 


Don’t: Completely drain the joint accounts or cut all ties

It may also be tempting to drain your joint bank account before filing for divorce —  “better me doing it than her,” you may think to yourself. Do not take the shared finances and run. The judge who has the final say has likely seen quite a few divorces, so they’ve likely seen this tactic. You don’t want them looking at you with a weary eye. Besides, this is another way to turn a typical divorce proceeding into an all-out war from the beginning.

On the other hand, you don’t want to completely cut all ties, no matter how tempting it may seem. You need to keep an eye on any payments that your soon-to-be ex makes on the debt you both share. You’re likely on the hook for any unpaid debt since your name is also on this account. 


Do: Know What Your Debt Looks Like

Don’t: Accrue New, Excessive Debt

Outstanding credit card bills and loans don’t have to keep you from filing for divorce, and shouldn’t trap you in a marriage where you don’t want to stay. We can help you if bankruptcy becomes something you need to consider, and we can even help if it’s not. Enter your divorce by knowing exactly what you owe and to whom. Know which accounts include both yours and your spouse’s names, and which debt is yours alone. 

While doing something to treat yourself like purchasing a brand new car or going on a cruise may seem worth it given the circumstances, hold off until the dust settles. Accruing new debt during your divorce will only hurt, not help.


Do: Take Time For Yourself

Maybe you can’t cruise around in a new car, but you should take time for just you. If your divorce involves kids, you’re likely prioritizing their needs and health, which is absolutely understandable and necessary. Find time where you can process everything you’re going through and spend time alone. Lean on your friends and family, clergy and counselor. 

Remember, whether you need compassionate representation, would like to solve your differences via mediation or another alternative dispute resolution, you find yourself in need of filing for bankruptcy or a few of these items, reach out to us. We’re here to help.

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