As a Dallas divorce lawyer, I am often asked what can one do to prepare themselves for the filing of a divorce. A divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotionally involved experiences of your life. So before filing for divorce it is important to ask yourself some key questions to make sure you understand the legal process and are prepared for the emotional involvement a divorce requires. First, ask yourself whether it would be beneficial to speak with a marriage counselor, either individually or as a couple. Even if you think there is no hope for saving the marriage, talking to a professional might help you recognize where things went wrong, and how you can avoid similar behavior in the future.
Ask yourself if whether it is a financially good idea or bad idea to get a divorce in this economy. Although there are signs that the economy is strengthening, a lot of individuals still have not fully recovered from the effects of the economic downturn. Property values are still down somewhat and the stock market hasn’t fully recovered. As a result, getting a divorce now may cost you more than it would if you “stick it out” and wait until the economy is moving in strong positive direction. Obviously, the emotional aspects of considering a divorce sometimes outweigh the financial aspects. However, it is still important to ask yourself how getting a divorce in this economy would effect your overall net worth.
Ask yourself, and others, for a reference to a qualified divorce attorney. A divorce is a complicated procedure and you will need someone to not only advise you but listen to your needs and concerns as well. You’ll be spending a good amount of time, and money, with your divorce attorney, so it is critical that you shop around until you find an attorney that fits your personality and needs. A great resource for finding divorce attorneys are websites such as AVVO.com or your state’s bar association webpage. Referrals from friends and family that have gone through a divorce are also a great resource to consider.
Ask yourself if you have all of your financial documents in order. Again, emotions during a divorce can be overwhelming but it is absolutely critical to have all your financial documents gathered and in a safe place before filing for divorce. During a divorce, your bank account statements, credit card statements, retirement and brokerage account statements will be looked at with great scrutiny. Doing the legwork before filing for divorce and gathering all these documents will help not only keep costs down (from having your attorney search for these records), but also help keep the emotional toil down as well.
Ask yourself what steps you can take to safeguard your assets during separation. One of these steps is for you to take possession or certain assets, especially those you wish to continue using such as your car or other personal belongings. Another step involves protecting your credit score by closing out joint credit cards and bank accounts. By taking these proactive steps, you can help keep things as normal as possible during such an emotional time.
Finally, ask yourself what your goals of the divorce are. For some, the goal is short-sighted: they just want to end their marriage. For others, the goal is to be put in a situation to where they can move on to greener pastures and continue to grow in their personal lives. Whatever the reason, it is important to ask yourself what your goal is and communicate this with your divorce attorney.