No one gets married expecting that their marriage will end in divorce. Regardless of the reason for divorce, it can be a very emotional and legally complex process, so knowing exactly what you need to do before you file for divorce is essential.
If you’ve decided to ask for a divorce but aren’t sure where to begin, we’re here to help. We’ve created this checklist of seven things you need to do before filing for divorce.
1. Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Enlisting the services of an experienced divorce attorney is vital. Your attorney can advise you of your options and the most time and cost-effective way to reach an agreeable arrangement with your spouse. When researching divorce attorneys, you should look for one who understands the value of settling things quickly but is willing to fight for you in court if necessary.
Your divorce attorney will provide you with legal advice and discuss the pros and cons of litigation. They can offer alternatives to litigation, such as meditation, a collaborative effort that allows the couple to control the outcome of their divorce. If mediation isn’t an option, they should be prepared and experienced enough to fight for your desired result in the courtroom.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
It’s essential to have all of your finances to understand where you stand financially clearly. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means that a judge will divide marital assets fairly, which does not always result in a 50/50 split.
To begin, list all marital assets. Obvious assets are your home, automobiles, and financial accounts. Other assets can include pension plans, inheritances, art, or assets brought into the marriage by each partner.
Next, list all marital debts, regardless of which spouse’s name it’s in. Any marital debt will be split based on each partner’s ability to pay. The easiest way to ensure you don’t overlook anything is to obtain a copy of your credit report. Your credit report will list all debts in your name.
3. Gather Income Information
You will need proof of income for both you and your spouse before filing for divorce. This documentation can be in the form of a recent pay stub and your most recent tax return. If you are self-employed, you must provide copies of bank and financial statements to provide a clear picture of your income.
Make copies of as many statements as you can before filing for divorce. If anything is missing, your attorney can help you get the rest.
4. Review Joint Finances
Sometimes, out of anger, one or the other spouse will empty joint bank accounts when learning of an intent to divorce. It’s essential to protect yourself and keep your spouse from being able to empty any accounts you opened together. Remember that you should always talk to your attorney before taking action.
One way to protect yourself is to open an account solely in your name, take half of the funds from the joint account, and deposit them into your new account. If you do this, document everything you spend to account for it in court. Also, if you have any time of investment accounts or savings or money market accounts, consider freezing these accounts to eliminate the possibility of your spouse tampering with them.
You should also consider paying off and closing joint credit accounts before separating. This can help eliminate the possibility of either spouse using the account. If this is not possible, you should freeze the accounts.
5. Choose Whether to Move Out of or Stay in the Family Home
You may want to live separately from your spouse when you decide to file for divorce. Unless you’re in an abusive situation, it’s typically in your best interest to continue to live in your home until your divorce is final.
The main reason to stay is that it can affect your interest in the home. If you move out and your spouse continues to live there and pay the mortgage while your divorce is pending, the judge may consider that when determining property division. If things get bad and you feel that you must move, continuing to pay part of the mortgage payment and documenting any payments you make can secure your interest in the property.
6. Establishing Credit in Your Name
If you have shared credit with your spouse, purchasing a home or a vehicle after a divorce can be difficult. Establishing your own credit and building up a good credit score is essential. If you don’t already have credit in your own name, opening up something as simple as a credit card before your divorce can help you start to establish credit.
7. Create a Post-Divorce Budget
Creating a post-divorce budget before your divorce will help you determine your cost of living once you are on your own. After your divorce, you may see a decrease in income, so it’s best to prepare early so that you aren’t taken by surprise after everything is final.
You Deserve the Best Legal Representation for Your Divorce – Contact Attorney Hunter Fowler Today
Divorce can be challenging, even with the most amicable splits. It can be extremely tiring and stressful, taking a toll on you physically and emotionally. It’s important to remember why you have chosen to file for divorce during this time. Utilizing the tips mentioned above before you ask for a divorce can make the process smoother for all parties involved.
Attorney Hunter Fowler is a Murfreesboro Attorney who listens. He knows how complex the divorce process can be, so he will guide you through the process to make it as seamless as possible. When you work with Hunter, you can have peace of mind knowing that he is always looking for a way to benefit you and will work with you to negotiate for the things you want in your divorce settlement.
Do you want to work with an attorney who will listen to what you want and use every legal means possible to win it for you? Contact Attorney Hunter Fowler today!