Checklist: Preparing for Dissolution of Marriage
If you are the one planning to initiate the divorce action, think carefully about whether it is what you really want. Consider whether reconciliation is possible or whether couple’s or marital counseling could help. If you decide to go ahead with the action, address the following issues:
- Hire a lawyer you can trust. Remember, this person should make you feel comfortable and should look after your interests.
- Gather copies of all your financial records, including tax returns, pay stubs and investments, to give to your attorney. Keep these documents together and make sure you keep copies for your own records.
- Gather copies of any documents relating to ownership of property and personal belongings to give to your attorney. While it is unlikely that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will fight with you over who owns your clothes, the ownership of an antique brooch from the husband’s side of the family could quickly cause debate. Learn whose name is on the title for any houses, land, cars, boats, or other vehicles, and provide this information to your attorney.
- Develop a timeline with your lawyer of what has to happen when, and make sure you keep a running calendar of important dates and documents or appearances that are required of you.
- Open separate checking and credit accounts. Separate your paychecks from your spouse’s as soon as possible.
- Work on making important decisions regarding any children or other dependents as quickly as possible.
- Revise your will. Make sure to add provisions for any children in your custody upon the event of your death. Discuss who you would like to raise your children with your attorney.
- If you need to, acquire your own health insurance.
- Notify everyone. Your employer, health and life insurance, and pension accounts, especially, will want to know of your new single status. You may need to change the beneficiary of insurance and investments as well.
Dissolving a marriage is one of the most stressful situations you will ever go through. Remember to cut yourself a little slack, but also try to keep yourself calm and focused to the best of your ability. Inability to timely communicate or act can result in a divorce proceeding dragging on for months or years longer than it needs to. Use your best efforts to treat those around you with politeness and civility whenever possible to alleviate tension.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.