Very rarely does a divorce evolve overnight. In most cases, one or both spouses contemplate divorce for months or years before actually making an appointment to retain an attorney. In this five-part series, we are going to review some of the major steps to prepare for filing for divorce.
Before delving into the specific steps to consider, there are a few general considerations to address:
1. Why should you do all of this before you begin the divorce process? Once a divorce begins it can be difficult to gather information. The parties may separate, causing changes in parental duties. A spouse may change passwords, preventing the other spouse from accessing financial accounts. In extreme cases, a spouse can destroy documents or even become hostile or violent. It is best to prepare before you begin the divorce process.
2. Do you need to consider these steps if you’re doing an uncontested divorce? Clients often come to me saying that the details don’t matter because they’ve already agreed on all aspects of their divorce. Even for an uncontested divorce, you should still follow many of these steps so you and your attorney can review your rights, ensure you are not unknowingly giving up something to which you might have a claim and ensure that the divorce settlement addressees all issues that must be resolved.
3. Why should you spend time gathering information if you don’t care and just want a divorce? Inevitably there are accounts, assets or debts that can be missed if you don’t make a complete inventory and a list of all accounts. If something is left out of your settlement agreement, you may end up in court down the road to resolve the issue.
4. Remember that it is illegal to destroy things that can be used as evidence in a court case. You can face severe consequences for destroying documents, which can include deleting texts, emails or social media posts. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your attorney.
Look for the next part in this series: Preparing for Divorce – Child Custody Issues