How to Prepare for Divorce While Married

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How to Prepare for Divorce While Married

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

When you have made the decision that divorce is right for you, it's important that you take steps to protect yourself and your family. Being organized, keeping records, and preparing to discuss your life with your attorney usually helps.

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Follow the steps outlined here to help simplify the upcoming proceedings after deciding to file for divorce.

1. Save money.

Getting married can be an expensive endeavor. Getting divorced is even more expensive. That's why it's so important to save as soon as you know you're getting divorced.

The court considers any money you earn while married to be marital property and subject to equitable division between you and your spouse. However, you can open a separate bank account and have your paycheck deposited there to ensure your spouse doesn't spend that money frivolously before the asset division process.

You should also cut back on unnecessary expenses to increase your savings for divorce proceedings. This can help you manage your finances in the future, as well. Remember, you'll be living on a single income after your divorce.

2. Document everything.

All divorces must go through a financial disclosure, even uncontested divorces. The court does this to make sure finances are split equitably and to make determinations about alimony and child support.

Because you know you need to provide this to your attorney during your divorce proceeding, start planning now by keeping track of your family finances. This includes both your income and spending and that of your spouse. Keep your credit card statements, your bank statements, tax returns, receipts, and other bills.

3. Prepare for custody decisions.

When you have children of the marriage, it's important to not only prepare them for the lifestyle change but to prepare yourself for custody determinations. Not all divorces require a heated battle over children, however, it's better to be prepared than caught off guard.

Keep a journal of time spent with your children and who takes them to school, to extracurricular activities, and to social events. This is not a competition to see who is the better parent. By keeping a record, though, you have documentation to provide your attorney and the court that could help them in making a custody determination.

4. Hire an attorney.

Unless you and your spouse agree on absolutely everything and you have a truly uncontested divorce, do not try to be your own attorney for your divorce. Because this is a complex and time-consuming legal process, you need someone you can trust to help you protect your rights.

Meeting with several divorce attorneys in your area can give you an idea of who you feel most comfortable with. This is a personal process and your attorney will need to know everything about you, so you must feel comfortable speaking candidly and openly with them.

No one enters a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. Today, however, half of all marriages do. So when you realize divorce is in your future, taking these steps can help you prepare and make sure your rights are protected during this legal process.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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