If you want to file for divorce, here are a few steps you should take before you move forward with the formal paperwork in order to protect yourself and your children during the process.
#1 Get Your Financial Paperwork Together
One of the first things that you need to prepare is your financial paperwork. Your finances are going to be a big focus of the formal divorce process, so you are going to want to make sure that you have copies and information on all of your and your spouse's financial deals and interests. Having all of this information together will help you reduce your attorney's fees as well—by presenting the information to your divorce attorney, you save them from having to spend time digging to get the financial information they need to move forward with your divorce.
All of your financial paperwork is meant to determine the overall value of the estate that you share with your spouse. That means you are going to need access to your tax returns over the past few years, as well as current statements on all of your different investments, retirement accounts, savings, and even checking account. The more financial statements you can gather, the better. If you own a business or investment properties with your spouse, you are going to want to gather the information on them as well.
#2 Figure Out Your Monthly Expenses
It can be easy, when you are married, to just pay your bills and other expenses every month, especially if you have the money to do so, and not really think about what your overall budget is. When you get divorced though, it is important for you to understand your monthly expenses and your monthly budget. This will help determine if you might get spousal support or if you are going to have to pay alimony to your spouse.
Look back over your bank and credit card statements over the past few months or over the past few years, and use that information to create a budget that shows your household bills and expenses. This will help your attorney determine what your expenses should be for each of you after you divorce.
#3 Create A Plan For Your Children
Finally, you need to create a plan for your children. For this step, you are going to want to talk with your spouse. If you have been separated or have talked about separating before, this should not come as a surprise to your spouse. If possible, it is best to figure out a plan for your children before you get together with an attorney. If you can shield your children from a drawn-out court custody battle, that is often the best approach.
You are going to want to establish a plan with your spouse for telling your children about the divorce and for taking care of your children as you go through your divorce proceedings. Be a united front on what you are sharing with your children and on how you will handle disagreements so your children don't get caught up in your divorce.
Gather your financial paperwork, figure out your monthly budget for your joint household, and create a plan for your children before moving forward with the formal divorce process will help protect you and your children.