If you believe that your marriage has been irreconcilably broken and that a divorce is your only option, realize that before filing your case, you will likely have a lot to deal with, including fluctuating emotions as well as a multitude of important responsibilities. With this in mind, there is no suitable substitute for the pre-planning necessary to help make your divorce case run a bit more smoothly. Specifically, taking certain pro-active steps can help you lower your attorney-related costs, reduce the time necessary to finalize your case, and move on with your life with the least amount of emotional and monetary damage. Accordingly, we have compiled the following top ten list to help you understand the pre-divorce steps that can help you should you feel that a divorce is soon on the horizon:
- Consider and weigh all of your options. While it is not appropriate in every case, we still recommend that you consider whether or not you really want to get divorced. Since divorce is a permanent step that irreversibly ends a marriage, it is important to know that this is really what you want before you pursue this rather difficult undertaking. Perhaps speaking with a counselor or friend to help you make this decision will help you understand whether it is right for you.
- Contact a qualified New Jersey divorce attorney. Should you wish to learn more about your legal options, contact an experienced New Jersey family law attorney for guidance. He can help you determine what is best for you, such divorce mediation, and other important issues. A seasoned lawyer can also review your case and help you understand the full scope of your rights and responsibilities in the event that you decide to file for divorce. Keep in mind that while New Jersey law allows you to file for a divorce online (under certain circumstances), it is not a substitute for the valuable services of a seasoned divorce lawyer.
- Copy all important documents. Before taking the divorce plunge, it is crucial to go through your home and make photocopies of everything you can find, including tax returns, financial statements (i.e., bank, investment, etc.), insurance policies, titles to your car or boat, and real estate documents, to name a few. If your spouse uses certain specialized software to track your finances, save a copy of this to an external drive so that you have everything you need once you file your divorce case.
- Make an inventory or your property. Comb each room of your home and compile a list of your valuables. While you not need to account for everything, it is helpful to know what you have so that the property division phase is handled by and your spouse with the least amount of contention as possible.
- Obtain copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Since a divorce in New Jersey involves the equitable division of both assets and debt, it is recommended that you know exactly how much you owe, what credit accounts are still open, and whose name is on what account. Consider the fact that even if you are not on your spouse’s credit card, you may still be liable for the debt as a result of your divorce.
- Establish your own lines of credit and source of funding. If you do not have any form of individual credit such as a credit card, apply for one or two as soon as possible so that you have your own separate credit once you are divorced.
- Know the household budged and expenses. If it is possible, go through your savings and check registers over the past year and jot down how much you spend each month on the household expenses as well as other items, such as your phone, dry cleaning, daycare costs, etc. This will help your during the divorce when you have to complete a Case Information Statement. Also keep track of the money you spend each day that you will be able to determine how much you can afford once your divorce is finalized.
- Keep your children out of the divorce mix. Preparing for a divorce takes a lot of time and energy. However, make sure that you do not mix your children into the process or take things out on them while you are getting ready for your divorce. Do everything possible to stay connected with them and to validate how they feel at all times. Since children are the most vulnerable parties in a divorce, it is important to consider their feelings first and to be as sensitive to their needs as possible
- Manage your debt. Do not increase your debt levels right before filing for divorce, as this could be construed rather negatively by the court once your case is underway. Some lawyers advise their clients that they should close any joint accounts (with the permission of one’s spouse) and take steps to reduce additional sources of debt.
- Take care of you. Divorce is undoubtedly a stressful process. That is why it is essential that you take steps to care for yourself before and after filing. This can include joining a divorce support group, seeking the advice of a therapist, joining a gym, or giving yourself some TLC by getting a massage or facial.
Contact The Bronzino Law Firm to Learn More About Your Legal Options
If you feel that a divorce is on the horizon and wish to learn more about your legal rights and options, it is critical that you speak with an attorney who has the skills and experience necessary to effectively represent your interests. Our highly seasoned New Jersey family law attorney provides each and every prospective client with a free consultation in our conveniently located Brick, New Jersey office. We invite you to call us locally at (732) 812-3102. We look forward to providing you with superior legal representation.