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What to Know Before Getting Divorced

Whether you are curious as to what could happen if you decide to end your marriage, or your husband or wife has made that decision and you are forced into the process, you can take steps to protect your interests and understand how divorce will affect your own and your children’s futures.

Know Your Finances.

Wherever you are in life – single, married, or divorced – you should know your finances. After divorce the income that met your family’s needs under one roof will have to cover two households. If you haven’t paid attention to finances, take the time now to examine the family’s income and expenses. Review bank and credit card statements, and keep your cash receipts to establish your budget.  Then compare that budget to the family income to see whether you have a surplus (savings), a deficit (debts) or basically break even.

Obtain Important Financial Documents.

Most people have access to tax returns, pay stubs, banking records and credit card statements. Other important documents include health insurance cards, life insurance and car insurance policies, and retirement account statements. Make copies of these documents and keep them in a safe place.

If your spouse handles the family finances and you do not have access to records, you may still be able to obtain them. For example, if your mortgage is in joint names, ask the mortgage company for statements showing the mortgage balance and monthly payment.

Be Careful of Social Media

You may be tempted to discuss your divorce on Facebook or Twitter or send texts and emails to friends and family.  Avoid the temptation — once you hit “send,” you’ve lost control over where your comments go. Your statements can be used against you later, or can get back to your spouse or — far worse – to your children.

Talk to Experts

Most parents need guidance on how to help children deal with the stress of divorce.  Experienced, licensed mental health professionals can help you manage your own anxiety and coach you on how to tell the children, answer their questions, and insulate them as much as possible from your divorce process.  Ideally, you and your spouse will work together with someone to provide consistency and stability as your family transitions.

Financial planners can advise how to utilize the funds that will be available to you post-divorce.  They can help explore how various proposals and options will work for you and your family.

The Legal Process

An experienced family lawyer can advise you of your rights and obligations regarding both your children and your finances.  You don’t have to wage war in litigation or put your fate to a judge who must handle hundreds of cases. Mediation, collaborative divorce and other cooperative processes can save you time and money, and provide an individualized focus on your family’s well-being.  In choosing an attorney, make sure it is someone familiar with all the options so you can make an informed choice about the most appropriate way for you to proceed.