No one gets married with the intention of getting a divorce in the future. However, sometimes things don’t work out for the couple, and the best way for them to move forward is by getting a divorce.
The process is a complicated one and can go on for a prolonged duration.
Usually, the most important requirement for filing for divorce is that the couple stay separately for at least one year.
But that’s not all!
As experienced St. Louis divorce mediation attorneys, we know that other factors also need to be considered. You will have to do several things to prepare for the impending divorce and ensure you (and your kids, if any) are adequately protected from its consequences.
Here are a few things you should do to mitigate the effects of the divorce.
1. See a Marriage Counselor
Thoughts of the divorce, going through the process, and dealing with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be traumatic. This is where a marriage counselor comes into the picture. Talking to one can help you come to terms with the new reality. Your counselor can also provide tips to help you work through the emotions you may be feeling.
2. Start Saving Money
Getting a divorce can be expensive. That’s why it is important that you start saving money as soon as you know you’re getting divorced. You should know that the court will consider the money you earn while married to be marital property. In a Missouri court, it will be subject to equitable distribution between the divorcing couple.
That being said, you can open a separate bank account and direct all your monies there to ensure that your spouse doesn’t indulge in frivolous expenditures before the asset division process.
You will probably be living on a single income after your divorce. To enhance your savings, you should refrain from making unnecessary expenses. Savings will make you financially secure in the future as well.
3. Document Everything
Once you know that a divorce is underway, start maintaining documented records of all your financials. Even if you’re going for an uncontested divorce, there are going to be financial disclosures in the court to make sure that the wealth us divided equitably. It also helps to make decisions regarding alimony and child support.
It is a good idea to plan in advance to keep track of your finances. This includes you and your spouse’s incomes and expenses. You should also have your bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, expense receipts, and other bills handy.
4. Have Your Legal Documents in Place
When preparing for your divorce, make sure to have copies of the following legal documents in place:
- Your marriage certificate
- Prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements, if any
- Your licenses
- Your trust documents
- Any wills implemented during your marriage
- Any other document you think is important to the divorce proceedings
If you’ve mentioned your spouse in your will, you should update it before separating it in case something happens to you.
5. Think about Kids and Custody Arrangements
Not all divorces have heated custody battles. Divorce mediation is carried out in the most amicable manner and is considered best when kids are involved. Working with an experienced St. Louis divorce mediation attorney can do you a lot of good. But it is important to be ready to face everything and not get caught off guard.
As mentioned, the divorce process can get trickier when children are involved. You need to prepare not just yourself, but also your kids for the impending change in their lifestyle and the custody arrangements.
You will have to think about how you will explain the situation to them and the ways in which you will help them cope with it. Other considerations you will need to take into account include who will have primary custody, where the children with life, who will take them to school as well as to extracurricular and social events, and more.
Maintain a journal of the time you spend with your children. This way, you will have proper documentation to provide to the court. It can help the judge in making custody-related decisions.
6. Close Joint Credit Accounts
If you can, close all joint credit accounts before you separate. You never know how the divorce proceedings will affect your spouse. Closing joint accounts will prevent your spouse (especially a disgruntled one) from using the account and incurring expenses that you may have to pay off.
If money is owed on the account, get the account frozen. This means you will not be able to use the account anymore, but it will also be in your best interest. Once the divorce is granted, the balance owed can be transferred to the party that the court finds responsible for the debt.
Make sure to inform your creditors that you are getting a divorce. If you’ve changed your address, update them about it so that you continue to receive bills from the joint account.
7. Open a P.O. Box
Taking a cue from the above point, here’s something that you can do if you are moving out of your marital home. Open a post office (P.O.) box so that you don’t end up losing any important paperwork in the mail. Further, if you haven’t discussed with your spouse or are yet to file for divorce, a P.O. box can serve as a secure place for receiving your legal documents.
8. Get Property and Assets Evaluated
It always helps to know the value of what you jointly own with your spouse to get a good divorce settlement. In fact, this is an important step to ensure that you get your fair share of your home and other assets. Having a vague idea of their current worth is not enough. You may, therefore, want to consider getting your property and assets evaluated by professionals.
This is a great way to know what your biggest asset is. A lot of people think that their house is their biggest asset when it turns out that their pension account is more valuable. The court will probably consider its future value at the time of splitting the assets.
9. Behave Yourself
Once you have decided to file for divorce or have already filed for it, it is important that you are on your best behavior. This is because getting a divorce means you could be under the scanner. Your spouse may be monitoring your every move, so you don’t want to give them ammunition to use against you in court.
As far as possible, avoid partying, dating, and indulging in any sexual activity until the divorce is finalized. If you’re going look for custody, make your children your topmost priority. Know that this is a stressful time for them, and you need to be there for them in every way.
Spend time with your family and friends. Keep yourself physically and mentally fit. Do what needs to be done to present yourself in the best light in the eyes of the court.
10. Talk to Other Divorced People
You will benefit from talking to other divorced people that you know, and reading up about how it changes people’s lives. Meet mediators and join support groups to know exactly what the divorce process entails and how it works. Their accounts can prove to be extremely helpful in getting you acquainted with the post-divorce life in a positive manner.
Divorce is rarely easy on separating spouses. If kids are involved, matters can get trickier. However, you can do your bit to protect your interests. After all, a lot can be at stake. Whether it is clearing up the financial picture, determining child custody terms and conditions, or being mentally and emotionally ready, you need to consider every factor. Consulting counselors, mediators, and attorneys is an important step, one which will help you take care of the legalities involved. Hopefully, this post has helped you understand the actions you will have to take to protect yourself and your kids after the divorce.