There will be conflict. There will be a changed financial picture. There will be difficult decisions. There will be emotional days – and nights. But, pay attention to these 5 things and help yourself prepare a solid foundation for your future.
1. Do Document! You want to be able to back up any and all financial claims or assets with the proper paperwork. It’s a long list, but you should have copies of the following
• Tax returns
• Loan applications and loan documents
• Wills and trusts
• Financial statements from banks, brokerages and any other income source
• Credit card and loan statements
• Real property deeds
• Insurance policies and inventories
• Car registration
Be sure to have all documents that show sole and separate property such as inheritances or gifts to you from your family. Documenting assets that are yours alone will help you retain them. Even if it turns out that you don’t need all this documentation, you should have it ready to make sure you get the fairest settlement and division of assets.
2. Don’t be Passive. You may think that your soon-to-be-ex will be nothing but fair or that your attorney can figure out all the necessary ins and outs. Wrong. This is your divorce. By being involved, stating your mind and, if necessary, fighting for an asset, you will feel more in control. You want to take an active role in negotiations – even when you have complete faith in your divorce lawyer. Remember, your attorney is there to advise you, but the decisions are yours to make. Another benefit, when you take an active role in your divorce, you’ll feel more in control when the divorce is over and more prepared to start the next chapter in your life.
3. Do have the Money You Need. You’re likely to have new expenses that have to be paid. Court fees, living expenses and other costs are going to happen. Two incomes have become one. Make sure you have put aside the necessary money to get through the separation and divorce. Do it before the divorce actions starts!
4. Don’t be Afraid to Get Professional Help. You hired a divorce attorney, but you may need more professional help than that. You may need to talk with a financial planner or even to hire a forensic accountant if you think that your spouse has hidden assets. Don’t be afraid to get counseling from a therapist for you or for your children. You may feel like getting that additional help is expensive, but remember how you come out on the other side of the divorce will affect the rest of your life.
5. Do be Ready for the Worst. You won’t have your spouse to lean on so give some thought and be mentally prepared to handle an emergency – whether it’s a sick child or an expensive divorce that drags on and on. What if you aren’t paid the child support or alimony that is awarded in the divorce? How will you feel if your spouse marries someone else almost immediately? Don’t dwell on the negative, but give it enough though so you can face your fears and be able to handle whatever curve balls are thrown at you.
The first professional you need to hire is your attorney. Whether you need a divorce attorney in Queen Creek or a divorce attorney in Glendale, talk to prospective lawyers and find the knowledgeable professional who you feel is simpatico. You want to rely on this attorney with complete confidence so make sure you’ve found a good fit!