Thoughtful Planning Can Lead To A Smoother Divorce
Before filing for divorce, you have likely spent a lot of time thinking about the consequences of this step. Making the decision to end a marriage usually comes after months or years of frustration, resentment, or dissatisfaction. But even when the decision to divorce comes suddenly - such as after discovering infidelity or an intense domestic violence or child abuse event - weeks, months, or even years can go by between that moment of decision and the time you actually file a divorce petition at the courthouse.
No matter how long that period is between choosing to divorce and filing for divorce, you should use the time wisely. Untangling the emotional, financial, and practical inter-dependence of a marriage involves lots of moving parts. The process of starting a separate life can be made even more difficult if the other spouse succumbs to the temptation to play games or deliberately interferes with your efforts to move on.
Just as the start of your marriage – your wedding – probably involved lots of thoughtful preparation and planning, so too does the end of your marriage. By taking the right steps before filing for divorce in Colorado, you can minimize disruptions, protect yourself (and your children) from any potential sabotage by your spouse, and put yourself in the best possible position during and after the proceedings.
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Here are four things you should consider doing before filing for divorce:
Establish Separate Accounts
It’s likely that both you and your soon-to-be-former spouse have several shared accounts that you rely on all the time. This could include bank accounts, cell phone service, and Wi-Fi/internet, to name a few. For privacy, and to avoid leaving yourself at your spouse’s mercy, set up accounts for these items in your own name before filing for divorce.
Making Temporary Living Arrangements
Which spouse gets to keep and stay in the marital home can be one of the more contentious issues in a divorce. Whatever the ultimate, permanent outcome, you likely do not want to live in the same place as your spouse while your divorce proceeds. One of you will need to make arrangements to live somewhere other than in your current home. Even if you plan to stay in your home and expect your spouse to move out, you should have a plan for living elsewhere for the short term, even if it is with a close friend or relative.
Having a safe place you can go is especially important if you have concerns that your spouse could engage in acts of domestic violence, child abuse, or harassment after they learn that you plan to file for divorce.
Need housing assistance in Colorado Springs? Check out Partners in Housing.
Gather Important Financial Documents and Information
You and your divorce attorney will want to have as complete a financial picture of your marriage as possible before filing for divorce.
To that end, start by preparing an inventory of all of your personal property as well as that of your spouse. Locate and get copies of financial documents and information that you can ultimately provide to your divorce lawyer. This could be tricky if your spouse was the one who took care of the family finances, bills, taxes, and accounts. You may have to do a little digging and detective work to get this information, but it will be well worth it. Focus on assembling the following:
- Several years of your tax returns, whether you file jointly or separately;
- Checking and savings account statement;
- Records of all investment accounts and pensions;
- Inventory of safe deposit box contents;
- Jointly owned vehicle titles and related loan statements;
- Credit card statements and credit reports;
- Pay stubs or other documents reflecting the income of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s monthly expenses;
- Mortgage or home equity loan statements;
- Copies of the business records for any business owned by you or your spouse;
- List of each spouse’s assets, including such things as art, antiques, jewelry, vehicles, real estate, furniture, and cash;
- Each spouse’s debts and liabilities;
- Pension plans, retirement accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, and any other employee benefits;
- Life, health, and disability insurance policies owned by either spouse.
Put Together Your Dream Team
Divorce is not a process you need to go through alone, nor should you.
Now is the time to ensure that you have a solid support system to help you through the practical, logistical, and emotional challenges you’ll face. Lean on family and friends, avail yourself of professional help or clergy, or find support groups where you can share your feelings and experiences with others facing the same challenges and issues.
What Else Should You Do Before Filing For Divorce? Call Colorado Springs Divorce and Family Law Attorneys At Perkins Law.
Of course, your team and your planning will not be complete until you have found and retained an experienced, compassionate, and effective divorce attorney in Colorado Springs who will be by your side at every step of the process. At Perkins Law, we understand the emotional and the practical side of divorce and welcome the opportunity to assist you in the process. Please contact us today to arrange for your free initial consultation.