Organizing for Divorce
Anyone considering initiating a divorce with the complications of a large amount of assets to be divided and children involved in the breakup, might want to talk to a divorce attorney before signing any papers. An attorney is a must if your case is a contested divorce involving any type of abuse, dishonesty or illegal behavior as well. If one spouse already has an attorney, the other will surely need one too. Negotiating a complex divorce without legal representation can hurt your position in court and could result in lifelong negative effects.
Obviously lawyers don’t work for free and you will need to choose a lawyer you can afford. Ask a lot of questions up front about the fees and make sure you understand them. You should hire an attorney with a good track record and a lot of experience in family court and divorce litigation. You can ask friends and relatives about recommendations or contact your state’s Bar Association to check out any lawyers you might be considering. Those needing an attorney but lacking the money for legal representation, can try to borrow it or check with their local government’s legal aid offices to see what help might be available
You need a local attorney because they have more insight and communication with the local courts and judges than an out-of-town attorney will. It can only help your case when your lawyer has experience with the courts and judges in your jurisdiction. You can look for an attorney that specializes in the specific type of divorce problem you might have like alimony, mediation, or child custody. An attorney that is available when you need them and takes an active interest in your concerns will listen to your priorities and help you make good divorce decisions. You don’t want to hire someone who is too busy to talk to you and won’t answer your questions.
Before you meet with your attorney, you’ll want to have all your documents ready. Gather up all your financial papers, legal documents and any other paperwork that has to do with property and money. The court will eventually ask you to disclose all your assets and earnings and you will need to give your lawyer copies of everything too. Arrive at your lawyer’s office on time and be prepared to ask questions and take notes. In order to get the most for your money you’ll need to participate in the process too.
Be sure supply your attorney with all of the facts about your case and try not to exaggerate or minimize the circumstances involved to gain an advantage. Remember that lying or hiding assets from your spouse and the court can be costly and illegal, and could have serous consequences. The best divorce attorneys can only work within the existing legal system and cannot guarantee that your divorce will be come out in your favor. A divorce that is fair for all parties involved is a better approach.
Points to Remember:
Your divorce attorney cannot resolve your emotional and psychological issues and you will make better decisions if you keep your emotions out of the legal process. A counselor or therapist can help you sort out the emotional issues before you get to court.
Look at the big picture and try to let the little stuff go. Focus on issues that will be important in the long run. Many of today’s issues and arguments may not matter in a decade.
Get an idea of what your child support payments might be in advance. All states have specific child support guidelines that can be found on-line or in the library. You can plan more effectively if you have a clear idea of your financial position going in.
Try to pay off any joints debts you can before the divorce. It is easier to start a new life without worrying about past debts.
Cancel all joint charge cards and debit cards. Revoke any other authorized users on your separate charge accounts as well. Both spouses should set up their own individual credit accounts.
Get an accurate determination of the true value of your real property and home before the time of your divorce. You can get an accurate comparative idea of what your home would sell for at the time of your divorce by using the services of a Realtor in your area.
Get a current credit report for yourself as an individual. You can obtain free credit bureau reports online from a number of sources. Attempting to obtain a copy of your spouse’s credit report without their permission is illegal however..
Make your children or relatives the beneficiaries on your life insurance before you file for divorce. If you wait until the divorce has been initiated, the beneficiary and the coverage may have to continue unchanged.