5 Initial Steps Before Filing For Divorce

If you have made the decision to file for divorce, or if your spouse has, you should prepare with these five steps so that your interests are best served.

  1. Consult with Attorneys: First off, you should consult with three attorneys before retaining one. Finding an experienced lawyer with whom you can communicate well is the key. Whether you settle your case without appearing in court or litigate your case through multiple Order to Show Cause hearings and ultimately a trial, you will need the honest advice and skillful strategies of your attorney. As there are many possible outcomes in a divorce, you must communicate your goals and you need a lawyer to fight for you so the best result is achieved.
  2. Secure Your Privacy: Spouses in a divorce often review emails, voicemails, and social media websites to gather information, while some may go so far as to monitor your every computer keystroke. Also keep in mind that all your communications might be reviewed by the court. It is best not to communicate anything that could be used later to paint you in a negative light, as the back and forth accusations will just be the start of protracted litigation. Definitely change all your passwords and consider opening new accounts to secure your privacy.
  3. Establish a Parenting Plan: If possible, it is best to remain in the family home until a parenting plan is reached. But obviously, working on a parenting plan cannot happen if there is abuse. With domestic violence, you need to call the police, and then you should secure a temporary restraining order. Domestic violence, among other concerns, will be a factor in establishing a parenting plan. During the emotional rollercoaster of separation and divorce, always keep in mind the goal of doing what is best for your children. Minor’s counsel, mental health therapists and psychological evaluators are all available to frame a custody-visitation arrangement. Mediation at court and contested hearings are also options if you cannot work out the best agreement with your spouse.
  4. Protect Your Assets and Your Credit: To secure your financial future, you should gather three years’ worth of personal and business financial documents, including all account statements, tax returns, and profit and loss statements – as well as the most recent three paystubs for you and your spouse. Depending on your circumstances, you should consider splitting joint bank accounts, along with canceling joint credit cards to open separate accounts instead. Then review your insurance policies and prepare a budget for the separation so that your financial wellbeing is safeguarded.
  5. Remain Open to Counseling and Mediation, But Be Prepared for Trial: Controlling the outcome of your case through settlement is regularly the most efficient result, but you must protect the interests of your children and your financial future. Often joint counseling can help you and your spouse co-parent, while mediation, in its many different forms, can save on the financial toll of litigation. While there is value in resolving the case to Judgment, settling on what is best for you should always be the goal rather than settling quickly. Yet sometimes, a reasonable settlement is not available under the circumstances and then you need to be prepared for trial.