Divorce Planning Checklist

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An imminent divorce leaves many people feeling emotionally distraught and confused, but avoiding the situation leaves you unprepared and at a disadvantage. The legal aspect of the divorce involves several steps that vary by state. Referring to a checklist helps you move systematically through the necessary steps to protect your current and future situation.

Legal Representation

  • A divorce lawyer represents your interests throughout the divorce proceedings. Choosing a reputable divorce lawyer who listens to your needs and values you as a client makes a difficult process easier. If you aren't comfortable with your attorney, the strained attorney-client relationship may negatively affect your case. Hire an experienced divorce attorney immediately to help you get the divorce started. The lawyer provides a resource for what you need to do as well as for your legal rights in your current situation.

Finances

  • Your finances stand to take a hit during a divorce. The lawyer fees eat up a portion of your bank account. If your spouse plays dirty, you may be cut off or restricted financially. One option is to open your own bank account separate from the joint account to keep your income protected. Credit cards, lines of credit and other financial accounts are also an issue if you have a joint account. Any charges your spouse makes could affect your credit negatively. Make sure bills continue to be paid until the responsibility is legally decided through the divorce proceedings.

Housing and Expenses

  • Depending on the divorce, you may find yourself moving out of the family home. Decide how the housing situation will be resolved. You may decide to sell the home, or one spouse may move out while the other takes over the loan. Create a budget that includes your new housing costs and all other expenses you will now be responsible for paying. This helps you determine what type of housing you can afford as well as areas in the budget you may need to cut.

Custody

  • Parents who divorce face the additional stress and challenge of coming to a custody agreement. Each divorce situation is different, but you need to keep the child's best interests as the priority when negotiating custody. Your child is already dealing with a crushing blow to his security and sense of family. Fighting over his living situation will make him feel stuck in the middle and confused.

Documents

  • The divorce process requires personal information about you and your spouse, including details about the marriage, children, divorce reason, occupation, income, assets, expenses, liabilities, retirement accounts and insurance policies. You may need to provide documentation for the information provided. Wills, trusts and similar legal documents should be updated as necessary to reflect the divorce.

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