If you strip a divorce of all the emotions such as resentment and anger, it very much resembles a business transaction. In a business transaction, the parties will have to discuss their needs and the goal of the transaction and determine the best way to achieve the goal in a cost-effective manner. In a divorce, the parties’ goals generally include splitting assets and debts, determining child custody and timeshare, providing for the support of one spouse and determining how the parties will pay for the divorce fees.
Like all business transaction, careful planning before the divorce filing will help ease the negotiation process and reduce transaction costs. If you are considering or contemplating a divorce, here are five things you should do:
1. Keep track of financial records. Make a copy of all important financial documents, such as tax returns, retirement account statements and bank statements and keep them in a safe place. It is not unusual that important financial documents somehow go missing during the midst of a divorce. Although your attorney, through various legal means, can recover tax returns and financial statements, it is always wise to keep a copy for yourself. Having a copy handy will not only reduce the legal costs but it will also speed up the divorce process.
2. Become knowledgeable about the household’s income and expenses. If you are the spouse that has been out of the loop about your family’s finances, it is time to learn about what has been going on with your family’s income and expenses. You will need to know how much money is coming in and going out. You also will need to estimate how much funds you will need to maintain a separate household. Finding out your income and expenses before the divorce filing is important because the court may make child and spousal support orders based upon the financial information you have.
3. Create a “just in case” bank account. If there is any concern that you will not have access to funds for living expenses during the separation, or if you are currently unemployed and rely solely upon your spouse’s support, you should create and fund a separate bank account for yourself before filing for divorce. This bank account will help you survive financially post separation until your attorney can obtain the proper child and spousal support orders.
4. Discuss custody with your spouse. If you have minor children, you should sit down and have a frank discussion with your spouse about how to split custody of the children and each party’s expectations as to custody. You and your spouse will need to discuss who the children will live with and what kind of visitation will the other parent have with the children. Having an agreement regarding child custody before commencing the divorce will help the parties reduce attorney’s fees and avoid spending time in court on custody hearings.
5. Discuss divorce options with your spouse. You and your spouse should and can discuss the best way to get a divorce. Not all divorce cases will have to go through litigation. Nowadays, you and your spouse can use various means, including a mediator, a collaboration process, the court’s self-help office or attorneys to help you plan and finalize your divorce. The first step you should do with your spouse is to research the costs and benefits for each option and determine how each option will serve your needs.
Do you need help planning your divorce? Call our office at (310) 212-7109 for a free telephonic consultation.
Disclaimer: Neither Regal Law Office, APC nor its attorney assume any responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. Online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional help specific to their case.