You cannot control everything about your divorce, but if you plan ahead for what’s coming, it will prepare you for what is really important: making good decisions that will have a lasting impact on your life. Here are 7 steps you need to take in preparation for a divorce:
Step 1: Find a good lawyer.
A good lawyer is not only knowledgeable about New Jersey divorce law; he or she is also someone you can feel comfortable with sharing the most intimate details of your marriage. To find him or her, you should interview several divorce attorneys before choosing one. If you are concerned about cost — as most people are — look for someone who has experience in mediation as well as litigation. Mediation is often less expensive and takes less time; but if you can’t avoid litigation, you want someone who has your back in a fight.
Step 2: Determine your financial picture.
It’s good to get as much of a head start as possible in gathering all your financial information, which will be the basis for an equitable distribution of marital assets. Determine not only what you own, but also what you owe. For tangible assets like artwork or collectibles, you will need to provide documentation that shows present value and purchase history, including whether it was purchased with marital or separate funds.
Step 3: Prepare post-divorce budget.
Once you have a clear picture of your total income, you can start building a post-divorce budget that will guide you in your divorce negotiations.
Step 4: Build your own credit.
If most of your credit is in both your names, you will need to establish some credit in your name only. Get a credit card or two in your name and use it sparingly, paying off the balance each month so you can quickly establish good credit.
Step 5: Close joint credit accounts.
If you think there is even a possibility your spouse may run up additional debt during the divorce, it’s wise to close your joint credit accounts. If you cannot afford to pay them all off, then have the accounts frozen. Once the divorce is final, the balances can be paid by whomever the court finds is responsible for the debt.
Step 6: Don’t move.
Unless there is abuse involved, it is often best for you to stay in your home until the divorce is finalized. Moving out could have a negative effect on your interest in the property; if you have children in school, you want them to be able to finish the year without having to move. Discuss this with your attorney before making any move.
Step 7: Behave yourself.
If you have children, divorce is especially stressful on them and you need to spend your time meeting the needs of your children rather than dating, partying, or acting irresponsibly. Plus, if your case goes to court, any bad behavior on your part could be used against you.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Cistaro Law. Contact us today for your free consultation.