Getting a divorce involves more than simply talking to your spouse and filing papers. The end of a marriage will likely entail legal documentation and changes to your insurance, banking, parental custody, your living situation, and more. Plus, the entire process usually takes about a year and, if you go to trial, it could be 18 months or more before the divorce is final.
Therefore, it’s crucial for you and your family to consider everything a divorce entails and how it will affect every area of your lives before agreeing to move forward.
1. Choosing an Attorney
Before serving your spouse with divorce papers, you must find a good attorney. They will assist you in understanding the legal proceedings and help you file for divorce. You’ll also work closely with your attorney throughout the divorce, so it’s wise to interview multiple before settling on one that best suits your style and budget. If you anticipate a messy divorce, be sure to choose an attorney qualified to handle your case.
2. Alternatives to Court
Most people assume all divorces end up in court. However, there are alternative ways to resolve your case. One method involves finding a mediator to facilitate negotiations and help you and your spouse reach mutual agreements. Another alternative is collaborative divorce which entails each spouse hiring a collaborative attorney to settle the case outside of a courtroom. By choosing one of these options, you and your spouse can make your own decisions instead of having to obey a judge’s verdict.
3. Joint Bank Accounts
Separating your life from your spouse’s will also require you to close your joint bank account and open separate ones. First, you must freeze the account so your spouse doesn’t drain it out of spite. Then, split the sum in a way that seems fair to both of you and place your portion in an account under your name. Speak with your attorney early on in the divorce process to determine a fair split between shared accounts.
4. What Happens to Insurance
Divorce will affect auto insurance, homeowners insurance, and life insurance and the amount of coverage each one provides. For instance, your spouse is unable to remove you from the health insurance policy before the divorce. However, after the case is final, you’ll have to find a different policy. Likewise, it’s best to wait until after the divorce to change auto insurances. Remember to separate vehicle titles, sign a request for removal, and use a different address before completing the switch.
5. Your Goals for Custody
If you have children, considering your goals for custody is essential. It’s common for parents to share custody after the divorce. However, you should still make a point to sit down with your spouse and review both of your schedules as well as your kids’. Determine how you’ll split time with the children and come to a general agreement that allows both you and your spouse time to be with the kids.
6. Taking Inventory
To prevent disputes over furnishings, belongings, art, and other valuable items, take a complete inventory of your home. Take photos of each item and keep these pictures in a safe place so you can reference them during litigation. It’s also wise to create a physical list of these items and where you store them in your home. Additionally, you might get an appraisal on antiques or expensive belongings or insure valuable items in your inventory.
7. The Big Picture
As you proceed with the divorce, you may find yourself obsessing over tiny details and insignificant matters — like who gets the houseplants. Losing yourself in meaningless particulars will only sap your energy and distract you from the more important stuff. Therefore, it’s best to focus on the big picture and what life will look like post-divorce. Often, refusing to sweat the small stuff and making concessions on minor issues will speed proceedings and put more important matters in perspective.
8. Your Living Arrangements
Do you want to live in the same house as your spouse while the divorce plays out? Would you rather find a place of your own? Where will the kids live? It’s important to answer these questions as you consider divorce and life as a single parent. Odds are you’ll want to find a new place after the divorce is final. Start your search now talk with your attorney about which living situation you desire right now.
This goes without saying, but you must be absolutely certain that you want a divorce before making that final, life-altering choice. As you consider the end of your marriage, make sure you’ve exhausted every effort to reconcile before coming to a conclusion. Once you serve your spouse the divorce papers, it’s very difficult to reverse your decision, so be certain. You don’t want to regret this decision.