Divorce is a scary idea for many people. You’ve become used to a certain routine and maybe you even have fears of losing the lifestyle you helped to build and planned to enjoy for the rest of your life. Change is difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be a simple playbook to guide you through the hurdles that can upset your life. It seems like once you can finally wrap your mind around the idea that your marriage is ending, you’re overtaken by feeling overwhelmed at the thought what you’ll have to endure to move on with your life.
Using a divorce checklist to prepare you for what’s to come can provide the necessary room to breathe so that you can go into the process feeling less pressure. Whether circumstances dictate that you head into a complicated trial or you are able to successfully engage in divorce mediation, how well you’re prepared early on can be a gauge for your success.
Information to gather for your divorce attorneys
Make copies of any documentation you have available. If you have possession of the originals, make sure you retain them. Information you will need to provide your attorney for both you and your spouse includes:
- Contact information
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- Financial statements you have handy
- Titles to vehicles and deeds to property
- Most recent mortgage statement
- Pay stubs or direct deposit statements
- Your marriage license
- A list of prior marriages, including dates, names of former spouses, and children
- Social security numbers and birth dates
- Evidence related to your claims such as love letters showing an affair
- Educational background and degrees
- Professional licenses held and any disciplinary action taken
- Employment information
- Children’s names, birth certificates, and custody arrangement, including for children from prior relationships
- Information related to all child support arrangements or orders for all children of your marriage and any prior relationships
- Received or anticipated inheritances, and how any of that money has been spent
- Safe deposit box location and contents
- Last five years of tax returns
- Insurance policies for home, life, health, vehicle, and other policies you own
Tasks to complete before your divorce is complete
- Open checking, savings, and credit card accounts in your name alone after honestly assessing your current financial position. Some accounts require high minimum balances to avoid monthly maintenance fees.
- Order your credit report with scores from all three bureaus and request a credit freeze to prevent your spouse from running up marital debt.
- Prepare a list of all assets and liabilities (and values where known) owned by you and your spouse. Include financial accounts, personal property, real property, business interests, investments, retirement accounts, pensions, and rewards points. It’s also helpful to designate who holds ownership of each and whether ownership began prior to or during your marriage.
- If you have minor children, speak with a child psychologist about the best way to break the news of your divorce to them.
- Make a list of friends and family who would make good witnesses for you, and a separate list of who you think your spouse will use as witnesses, and why.
- Prepare a list of expenses, including for your children and any special needs you or the children have.
- Detail any improvements made to your home and where the funds originated.
- Schedule a consultation to have your estate planning documents updated to remove your spouse as your agent, and from any inheritance you no longer wish him or her to receive.
Safety above all else when divorcing
If your marriage involves physical abuse, you need to create a safe escape plan before you make it clear that you intend to file for divorce. Victims of domestic violence who leave clues that they are about to leave the relationship place themselves at higher risk for being killed by their abusive spouses.
- Look for temporary shelters if you and your children need to leave immediately. If you have pets, locate a shelter that will allow you to bring them with you to prevent them becoming the focus of your spouse’s aggression.
- If you have time to plan, locate an apartment or other residence that has safety features such as a gated premises with working security cameras and an alarm system in the residence.
- Rent a post office box and use that address on your new checks to prevent your spouse from locating you.
- Have an order of protection filed, if necessary.
While there are two sides to every dissolving marriage, with the Charlotte divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC, you get a team of experienced professionals who are on your side from the very beginning. We will be here when you’re ready to start your new chapter in life and in the meantime, you can begin to prepare. To schedule your private consultation with one of our caring family law attorneys in our Charlotte, Boone, Concord, or Weddington offices, call 704-321-0031, or reach out to us through our contact page.