How To Prepare For Your Divorce In Five Steps
There’s no way around it—divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. From before the case is filed through the entry of a final divorce decree by the Court, it can be an emotionally trying process. And the difficulty is it can sometimes be amplified once the case has started and the court deadlines start kicking in.
At Buckhead Family Law, one of our primary goals is to minimize the stress and difficulty of the divorce process for our clients. However, there are many things that you can do to get yourself ready for a divorce that will streamline the process, reduce your stress as it moves forward, and reduce your costs as you work with your attorney toward the finish line. In this post and the series that follows, we will show you how you can start preparing yourself before the divorce is ever filed. How
- Start Gathering and Organizing Documents. One of the most time-consuming and tedious parts of the divorce process is gathering all the documents and information that the Court will require or request as part of the discovery process. Discovery is the process through which the parties exchange information during the divorce litigation. In discovery, you will be asked to produce all sorts of documents and information, generally including years of financial documents. These requests often ask for multiple years of bank statements, credit card statements, investment account statements, tax returns, paystubs, documents reflecting income and debt, documents evidencing property ownership, invoices for medical payments etc. When discovery requests are served, you will have thirty (30) days to gather those documents and produce them to the other side. Accordingly, you can do yourself a significant favor by starting the process of gathering these documents early.
- Identify Your Assets, Debts, and Income. In addition to gathering documents, you should also start working on identifying all your marital assets, debts, and income. If any of those were acquired prior to the marriage, you should also work to identify when those assets were acquired and identify documents that show said acquisition. Doing so will help you and your attorney in determining the total value of your marital estate and any separate property claims you or your spouse may have to some of those assets.
You may also want to consider creating a budget for yourself if you do not already keep one. As the divorce proceeds, and you and your spouse begin to financially separate from each other, you may need to start paying more attention to how you use your money. A written and tracked budget can be a key tool.
- Start Keeping a Record. While many couples can get divorced without significant hostility, many others have a more difficult road. In case your divorce gets messy and ends up in front of a judge to decide things like asset division and custody, it is in your best interest to keep a record of what goes on between yourself and your spouse as you head into and proceed through the divorce. Whether that takes the form of a journal, saved correspondence and communications, notes, photos, videos, recordings, or otherwise, a written record of what has occurred between you and your spouse can be an invaluable tool in proving your case.
- Consult With an Attorney. Many people considering divorce can be hesitant to talk to an attorney “too early.” There is no such thing. Divorce can be a complicated legal process, and it has a huge impact on the lives of those that go through it. Understanding how that process will play out legally—and knowing what your rights and responsibility are during that process—is invaluable as you consider your options. At Buckhead Family Law, we do our best to make sure all of our clients are fully informed and understand how each step of the process will play out. Our experienced legal team is here to assist you in your consideration and navigation of this difficult time.
- Don’t Lose Focus on Things That Matter. Divorce can be messy. But don’t let it get in the way of those things that matter most to you. Talk with your kids to make sure they understand what is happening. Surround yourself with loved ones, and prioritize your relationships that are supportive and loving during this difficult time. While it is easy to get caught up in the details, never lose sight of the big picture: moving life forward.