Divorce Quick Start Guide
Steps to Take When Considering Divorce
If you are preparing for a divorce in Northern/Central New Jersey or Eastern Pennsylvania, here are some tips to get ready for your initial consultation with your divorce lawyer.
When preparing for a divorce, there are many considerations you need to keep in mind. At the outset, one of the most important considerations to take into account is this: Getting divorced is not an event, it is a process. During this process, you will want to make sure that you are making informed decisions and taking the right steps to prepare for your post-marriage life, and this starts with getting a clear picture of your personal, financial and family circumstances.
With this in mind, our Divorce Quick Start Guide is designed to help you get ready for the first step in the divorce process: meeting with a divorce attorney for a confidential, one-on-one consultation. Here are five tips to get you started thinking about some of the important questions you will need to answer during your divorce.
Getting Ready for Your Divorce
1. Collect Your Family’s Financial Information and Make a List of Assets
One of the first things you should do is attempt to gather all of you and your spouse’s financial information. This includes sources of income, assets and debts. As a result, to prepare for your divorce, you should:
- Make sure you know how to access all of your savings, checking and retirement accounts.
- Collect prior years’ tax returns, including any Schedules/attachments.
- Make copies of any W-2’s, 1099’s, K-1’s and any other documents showing sources of ordinary, investment or retirement income.
- Make a list of you and your spouse’s assets and debts. Most people have more assets than they realize, and at this point you should err on the side of being over-inclusive. Walk around your home and write down anything you see that has value, and be sure to include property that may be stored in other locations as well.
If you do not know or are unable to gather the above information for any reason, you should advise your attorney as soon as possible so that he/she can promptly take the necessary steps to obtain the information by other means. However, it will save you a considerable amount in overall legal fees if you are able to gather the necessary financial information on your own instead of having your attorney spend the additional time obtaining it.
2. Start Thinking about Your Post-Divorce Living Arrangements
When your divorce is over, do you want to remain in the family home? Or, are you prepared to find a new residence? If you have children, what type of custody and visitation schedule would make sense given your children’s needs and your personal circumstances? These are not easy questions, and now is the time to start searching for answers.
3. Start Thinking about What Matters Most to You in Your Divorce
Every divorce involves a level of compromise. Whether that compromise is voluntary or court-ordered, it is a necessary part of the divorce process. As a result, going into your divorce it is important to make decisions about what matters most to you. For many people, this includes some combination of the following:
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Keeping the family home
- Financial support from your spouse (alimony and/or child support)
- Making sure you get to keep certain items of property in the equitable distribution of your marital assets
4. Dust Off Your Pre-Nuptial Agreement
If you and your spouse signed a pre-nuptial agreement, you will want to bring a copy to your initial consultation. Your agreement may or may not be enforceable; but, if it is, it could play a significant role in determining what you can expect from your divorce.
5. Start Thinking about What Method Might Work Best for Your Divorce
Finally, you should think realistically about how well you and your spouse may be able to work together to finalize your divorce. While litigation will sometimes be unavoidable, even when there is a significant amount of ill-will, spouses are often able to reach a settlement early on without resorting to extended court proceedings. Options such as private negotiations or mediation can all lead to amicable resolutions while saving time, money and stress for all parties involved. Regardless of the method you choose to use, you should retain an attorney to represent you during the process so that your interests are protected and your goals are achieved.
Get Started with Your Divorce – Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today
For more information about preparing for your divorce, we invite you to schedule a free, confidential consultation at Rush & Savoia. It is never too early to start planning ahead. To request an appointment, call (908) 713-9800 or contact us online today.