Issues to address before filing for divorce

If you are thinking of filing for divorce, you should answer a few questions before serving the petition so you are more prepared.

Deciding to file for divorce is not something that you should do hastily, given the many ways that divorce impacts your life. You can make sure that you are more prepared to file for divorce by asking yourself some questions before serving your spouse with divorce papers.

What information should I gather before filing?

Following the adage "knowledge is power," you will want to gather a variety of information prior to filing for divorce. If you wait until after you have filed your divorce petition, it may be more difficult for you to obtain the paperwork you need. You will want to gather as much documentation of your family finances as possible, including:

  • Income tax returns
  • Bank account statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • Pay stubs for you and your spouse
  • Mortgage documents
  • Titles to property such as homes and vehicles

If you have these documents it can help you determine if your spouse is trying to hide or dissipate assets after you file for divorce.

You should also make copies of Social Security Cards and birth certificates for you, your spouse and your children if you have them.

What financial obligations can I expect?

Collecting your financial information can help give you an idea of your finances after divorce, as well. Based on your current income and expenses, you can make a post-divorce budget. Additionally, this information will give you an idea of whether you will need spousal support or have to pay such support. It can also help you estimate child support amounts.

You will have to prepare for the costs associated with filing for divorce itself, too. In addition to court costs and filing fees, you may choose to hire an attorney to assist you with your divorce, which means that you will need to factor attorney's fees in to your divorce budget.

Do I need an attorney?

Some people choose "do-it-yourself" divorce, and in some cases, such as when both spouses want to divorce, they have few assets and debts to divide and have no children, this may work without causing problems. However, if there is a chance that you and your spouse will have conflict about child custody and visitation or dividing assets, it is wise to have the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney to help you. A seasoned attorney can advocate for your interests while helping guide you through the divorce process. If you have questions about filing for divorce, talk to an experienced divorce lawyer.

Keywords: divorce; child custody; child support; spousal support