The breakup of a marriage is second only to the death of a parent or spouse in terms of emotional trauma. And like a death in the family, the implications of a divorce can last for years and impact your life in many different ways. If you feel that your marriage cannot be saved and that divorce is the only option, it is important to prepare yourself for the emotional and financial issues to come. Here are some important steps you need to take before filing for a divorce.
Find Out Where You Stand Financially
One of the goals of the divorce proceedings will be to equitably split the household assets, so it is important to know where you and your soon to be ex-spouse stand before filing for divorce. Take a good look at all of your household assets, from the balance in the checkbook to the status of any brokerage and mutual fund accounts.
You will also want to look at any pensions your spouse has coming, since you may be eligible for a portion of those proceeds as well. Social Security will be impacted as well, so you may want to meet with a financial advisor to discuss the situation.
Hire a Good Divorce Attorney
A divorce is a serious legal matter, and you need to protect your rights with a good attorney. Look for a good attorney – one who will be able to protect you when the time comes to file the papers.
The local bar association can help you find a qualified attorney, but it is important to interview each candidate. Divorce is a deeply personal matter, and you need to have a certain comfort level with the person who will be handling the proceedings. Looking for a lawyer who specializes in divorce and family law is the best way to protect yourself, your integrity and your assets in a divorce.
Establish Your Own Credit
If you have always relied on your spouse for credit cards, now is the time to start establishing your own credit profile. If you do not have a credit history, it will be very difficult to get a credit card, rent an apartment or qualify for a mortgage. Taking the time to establish your own credit now is important, and the sooner you get started the better.
Gather Your Income Information
When the divorce is finalized, the judge may establish spousal support, and that judgment will be based on income. Now is the time to gather your proof of income, since it will come to bear when spousal support is determined. Gather up your old income tax forms, along with pay stubs, bank statements and other supporting information. The more information you have on your side the easier it will be to come to an equitable arrangement.
Nothing can make filing for divorce easy, but the right preparatory steps can reduce the stress level just a little. The steps above are vital whenever divorce is in the cards, and the sooner you get started the better off you will be.
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