Thinking about filing for divorce but overwhelmed by a daunting process? Being prepared is key. Every situation is different. From our experience, however, there are things that come up in a divorce that a little preparation may help avoid. Here are 9 great tips for what to do before filing for divorce:
1.Maintain Your Lifestyle and Spending Patterns
After a divorce is filed, there is generally going to be a look back period of at least one year where your financial decisions are scrutinized. This is not the time to make an unusually large purchase, or go on a lavish vacation. It is also probably not the time to quit your stable paycheck to start a new business with no certain income, or go back to school. If you are going to pay or receive child support or alimony, a Judge may later determine that you are intentionally not earning your potential income. This could be held against you and lead to a larger financial payment than you can manage.
2. Document Your Possessions
You mild mannered spouse may act in ways you have never seen before when you break the news. We don’t suggest squirreling items away. But it is wise to document all valuables such as jewelries, collectibles, tools, furniture, and so forth. You could use a video camera walk-through of the home showing the key items and briefly describing them. This could avoid a dispute later about what items there are to divide up.
3. Organize Your Financial Documents
In New Hampshire, each spouse is required to disclose all bank, credit card, and other statements going back one year prior to the initiation of the divorce. It is best to make sure that you have these documents in order before filing for divorce.
4. Keep a Journal
Important daily events relating to the money, the children, or other important areas might seem unforgettable today. But memory fades over time. When it comes time to testify at trial many months, or even years, from now, you won’t be able to quickly remember all the details. Yet it is these details that will make your testimony persuasive. So the best thing is to keep a journal describing all the important events to help refresh your memory later.
5. Preserve Any Evidence
Don’t break into your spouse’s computer or office. But you should preserve copies of any evidence that you legally have access to, such as screenshots of important text message,, photographs, or videos.
6. Set Aside Some Money
You might need to move out in a hurry, or take on the entire mortgage payment or rent yourself. Try to save as much money as possible before you start the divorce process.
7. Decide Whether You Want to Stay in the House
Often, one of the biggest fights in a divorce is who will stay in the house. If you know you want to stay in the house, it is best not to move out before filing for divorce, or during the divorce, unless absolutely necessary.
8. Talk to Your Spouse
Every situation is different. In some cases, an open, honest discussion with your spouse might save you both tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and years of anxiety. On the other hand, if you know your spouse is violent or manipulative, then being open and honest may backfire. Use your sound judgment, and perhaps consult an objective source such as a counselor or lawyer.
9. Have a Safety Plan
Sadly, some spouses get violent or controlling when told about the end of the relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, or fear a hostile reaction, have a safety plan in place. There are many resources available to help victims safely get out of an abusive relationship.