Wondering what you should be doing in your divorce? Here is a list of strategic steps you can take before, during and after your divorce to help you obtain a smooth and successful process.
Before your divorce
- Try to meet with a divorce attorney at least six months before taking action. Your lawyer will help you determine what things you should be documenting, compiling and protecting as well as the best course of action for you in the months leading up to the actual filing.
- Start gathering financial documents such as tax returns, bank account statements, etc. and keep them in a safe place outside of the home you share with your spouse.
- Take an inventory of all personal property with date-stamped digital photographs or videos. As an equitable distribution jurisdiction, non-marital property (assets acquired prior to the marriage) remains with the spouse who owns it.
- If you only have joint accounts, open a new checking and savings account in your name at a different bank.
- Make necessary purchases or sales. Once your divorce begins, the judge will likely put a halt or scrutinize more carefully on selling, buying, or disposing of any marital property. While you can’t drain your bank accounts, you can use this period to consider financing a sale or purchase that has been in the works.
- Start thinking of your goals for child timesharing, custody/visitation, asset distribution, alimony, and your preferred method for obtaining your divorce. While these goals may change as the divorce progresses, it is important to have a general framework going into the process.
During your divorce
- Identify your priorities and remain focused on them. Determine what is most important to you. These “must-haves” of your divorce are what you and your lawyer should be negotiating or fighting to obtain for you.
- Try to remove emotion from the equation. Divorce is an emotional process, but these emotions can often cloud judgment. Make sure your actions and statements are in your best interest- it will often help you achieve a more expedient and satisfying result.
- Communicate with your lawyer. Your attorney is most effective when he knows everything about your situation and where you stand. There is nothing worse for a lawyer than being ambushed with information during a divorce about which the lawyer should have been informed.
- Consider the “big picture”. While divorce is just one period in your life, the implications of it can be far-reaching. Be sure you are looking past just today and tomorrow when it comes to your actions, goals, and desired results.
- Don’t get stuck in the traditional divorce litigation, “Go to Trial” process. Many couples are choosing to forgo this traditional divorce process and instead they opted for negotiations, mediation, and collaborative divorce. In addition to a quicker timeline, lower associated costs (and meeting in a confidential setting), these methods can also generate more mutually-satisfying results.
After your divorce
- Establish an individual financial position. Cancel and close any remaining joint accounts and credit cards and open individual accounts.
- Change the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts. A divorce will not automatically terminate your ex-spouse’s right to be a beneficiary.
- Change your insurance policies to reflect the asset holdings you still have. Don’t continue to pay premiums for items you no longer hold after divorce.
- Establish new priorities and goals and use them to create an updated financial plan and budget. Your life post-divorce is likely quite different – in terms of your financial picture, but also your future. Make a plan that outlines where you are now and where you would like to go based on your goals for the years ahead and retirement.
While partnering with an experienced lawyer is key in a successful divorce, it is ultimately a personal journey. Be sure you are proactively involved in all the stages of your divorce to help ensure you will be able to enjoy the outcome you hoped you would be able to obtain.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss strategic planning before, during, and after your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312 to schedule a consultation.