Planning for a Divorce Step by Step
If you or someone you know is facing a separation or divorce, the following steps will help you plan to make the process more manageable and less stressful:
Do your researchIf you plan on divorcing in the not-so-distant future, it's important to take steps now to ensure you are as prepared as possible. Anticipating a divorce before it happens gives you the benefit of time *both to do your homework and to get your ducks in a row.
One thing you should do is research important open questions. For instance, look into any prenuptial agreements that may exist, dig around to clarify ownership of certain items of property and, at a very broad level, try to familiarize yourself with some of the key divorce concepts that will apply to your case, such as determining whether your state is a community property or equitable division state?
Finally, take the time to start researching lawyers to determine which one would be the best fit for you. You will probably want to have this selection made and the attorney in place when the divorce finally gets underway.
Gather documentsIn most divorces, there are a great many documents that must be collected and provided to your attorney. Getting a head start on the divorce can be very helpful in terms of finding out which documents you should be gathering.
At a minimum, make a list of all your separate or joint accounts (savings, investment, retirement, pension, etc.) and obtain a copy of the most recent statements for each. You'll also want to gather copies of your most recent tax returns, typically for the last three years if possible, along with the most recent pay stubs (or W2's, 1099s, etc.) for both you and your spouse.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, there are other financial issues that must be addressed in addition to merely dividing assets. For instance, there are often debts, which may include mortgage payments, vehicle loans, credit card debt, personal loans, business obligations, etc. You should try to obtain copies of the most recent statements for each of these, as it will help paint a more complete financial picture for your divorce attorney.
It can often be more difficult, time consuming, and expensive to get these records during the divorce. Doing so ahead of time can help remove an additional layer of stress to the process, and acting early allows you to mark one more thing off your list and enables you to show up to the first meeting with your divorce attorney more fully prepared.
Take care of yourselfIf you know a divorce is (or might be) around the corner, it's a good time to start preparing yourself emotionally for the painful process that is to come. Ending a marriage and starting fresh can be hard on anyone, as it involves ending one chapter of your life and starting anew.
If you see the divorce coming, it can be good to try and clear other things off your plate, wrap up ongoing projects, try and ease the burdens on yourself as much as possible, freeing up as much emotional bandwidth as possible to handle the divorce.
It might also be helpful to go talk with a counselor or therapist and start working through some of you emotions before the process begins in earnest. Your divorce attorney can refer you to a well qualified counselor if you wish, and many clients find it helpful to have a neutral and objective person to assist them through the process.
We can help.The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for well over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce, including complex cases. We are well-equipped to handle all family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.
About the AuthorAggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Ben is a National Vice President and Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with all three of these distinctions.