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What You Can Do To Prepare For Divorce

Divorce is a major life change that will likely be difficult regardless of specific circumstances. Accordingly, being prepared for your divorce will make things considerably easier, logistically and emotionally.

You won't always know ahead of time whether or not your spouse will choose to cooperate. Therefore, some of the divorce planning tips on this page are meant to help you prepare given the possibility that your spouse may try to obstruct your progress and undermine your efforts.

Financial Preparations

Most married couples have commingled assets. Therefore, you will need to make sure that you will not lose access to money or credit when divorce proceedings begin. You can do this by opening bank/credit accounts in your name only.

You will also need to ensure that you have the funds to hire an attorney. Many law firms will require a retainer, which is an upfront payment to cover future billable hours. Retainer amounts vary, but you may be asked to pay about $5,000 in this part of Southern California.

Gathering Financial And Legal Documents

Before filing for divorce, it is a good idea to gather as much documentation as you can about your family assets, debts and property. This will typically include information related to:

  • Mortgage statements
  • Bank accounts
  • Stock accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • All documentation regarding income of both parties (including tax returns and pay stubs)
  • Other major assets and debts

In California, you are required to fill out a schedule of assets and debts with documents attached. You must also fill out an income and expense declaration, which will also require accompanying documentation. By gathering this paperwork early on, you can save time during the asset discovery process and reduce the likelihood that this information will be lost or hidden by your spouse.

Psychological Care For You And Your Children

There is one aspect of preparing for divorce that is too often overlooked: mental health. We urge clients to check their medical coverage and start working with psychologists or other mental health professionals to support them through the divorce. We also recommend getting this for children as well.

Research has shown that going through a divorce involves a grieving process very similar to the grief that accompanies the death of a loved one. You will likely experience the five stages of grief that include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. It is not enough to focus only on the legal aspects of divorce — you must also attend to your mental and emotional health.

Does It Matter Who Files First?

Legally speaking, it doesn't matter whether you are the spouse who initiates divorce or the spouse who responds. There may, however, be a psychological and logistical advantage to filing first. You will have had more time to gather documents and work through your feelings about getting divorced.

Contact Us For A Free Initial Consultation

With an office in Poway, Denny Kershek Family Law Attorney serves clients in San Diego County and surrounding areas. To speak to an experienced lawyer for free about your divorce needs, call us at 619-908-1899. You can also send us an email.