CHECKLIST-WHAT TO PREPARE FOR IN YOUR DIVORCE
Issues in marriage happen in all marriages whether we believe they will happen or not. Whether you are growing apart from the person you married or realize you should not have married them at all when you begin to investigate if divorce is the option you explore there a number of things you consider. Here is a checklist guide of things that you should consider doing before, during, and after your divorce.
BEFORE THE DIVORCE
1. Marriage Counselor-you may say “why do I need a marriage counselor if I know I am going to divorce”. The reason is that marriages are emotional and counseling will help with strategies to deal with that emotion and cope. Even if you ultimately decide you and your spouse don’t want to be together it provides a good emotional foundation.
2. Contact an attorney-it’s important because you need to know your options and what you are entitled to. Not every situation is that same. It can be easy to get a divorce, but impossible to go back to get that retirement account equitable asset you didn’t know you were entitled to or enforce a parenting plan that is ambiguous just as a couple of examples.
3. Send Personal Mail to a P.O Box-if you are living together still or even thinking of separating you don’t want correspondence from attorneys and other professionals “accidentally” being found by your spouse.
4. Legal Documents-legal documents that you have gathered during the marriage make copies
a. Marriage certificates
b. Prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements
c. Wills and Trusts
e. Copies of any other documents you feel could be important (i.e if your spouse has child support orders for minor children not of the marriage)
DURING THE SEPARATION
1. Make a list of all bank accounts personal and joint
2. Make a list of all credit cards in your name and your spouses
3. Confirm balances of bank accounts and credit cards
4. Obtain copies of statements for the past few months to a year keep in a physical folder or digital folder
5. Confirm logins for joint accounts and any accounts where you and your spouse are jointly listed. It could be investment accounts, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc.
6. Open a new check and savings in your name.
7. Put money in your account to pay living expenses and any emergencies
8. Apply for a credit card in your name only especially if you don’t have a credit
BILL AND FINANCES
1. Make a list of all your monthly bills and who pays what each money
2. Obtain statements for the past year most utilities and bills have online statements so save them in an online folder
3. Confirm balances
4. Confirm account numbers and access information
There are several things important when it comes to mind when making decisions about the marital home. In Georgia, you can live together and still be considered separated. Therefore, you may essentially live in the home while going through a divorce. These decisions can affect alimony and sometimes can prohibit you from returning home until after the divorce process is complete. However, every circumstance is different and you should speak to an attorney about what is best in light of your particular situation.
1. Make copies of mortgage statements for the past 6 months
2. Confirm account numbers
3. Obtain loan and bank information
4. If you can, obtain an appraisal
5. Make copies of payment statements
6. Obtain your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy
7. Obtain a copy of lease agreements
8. Copy real estate tax bill
9. Make a list of assets
10. Take pictures of each room and its contents
The choice to move is a big decision. Whether you are staying in the home, whether your spouse is staying in the home, or whether you are selling the home can be just as stressful as the divorce itself. However, here are few things to consider.
1. Research apartment or homes in areas if you want to move, If you have children, keep in mind school districts.
2. Obtain a copy of deeds
3. Confirm bank loan information
4. Take pictures of the property
5. Obtain current value in an appraisal for all real estate owned
1. Obtain loan information
2. Confirm account information
3. Copies of titles
4. Obtain an estimate of the value of your vehicle. Places like kbb.com can provide an estimate.
5. Obtain a declaration sheet for all auto insurance policies.
1. Obtain school information
2. Update school if address changes
3. Make a copy of the child(ren) class schedule
4. Make a list of afterschool or recreational activities
5. Request a copy of childcare expenses
Just a note that you are still responsible for paying debts during a divorce. It’s important that you and your spouse continue to make payments.
1. Make a list of debts you and your spouse have
2. Confirm amounts owed
3. Confirm account numbers
4. Call any joint creditors and ask what actions you should take to protect your interest during a divorce to prevent adverse actions to your credit report
5. Obtain a recent copy of your credit report
1. Gather tax returns for the last 5 years
2. If you are a business owner, your business tax returns for the last 5 years
1. Obtain a copy of your W-2s or 1099s for the past 5 years
2. Obtain a copy of your spouse’s W-2s or 1009s for the past 5 years
3. Paystubs for the last 6 months
4. If business owner, profit and loss statements
5. If you use business credit cards or debit cards to take care of any personal expenses get those statements for the last year.
1. Make a list of employer-provided benefits
2. Obtain a copy of the disability insurance policy
Request a copy of your credit report. This is likely to show all debt accounts and can be obtained for free once a year.
Obtain current balance for any 401K accounts or retirement accounts
Obtain current balance statements for all stock, bond, and investment accounts
Change your passwords to all social media, e-mail, and online accounts where you and your spouse are not jointly on.
Remember you cannot “hack” into your spouse's email account. The appropriate legal channels have to be taken to obtain the information you may believe is in their account. You should create a new email and remember to link your online accounts to your new email especially if you and your spouse have a joint email account.
If you are currently on your spouses’ health insurance then after the divorce is final you likely will not be able to stay on their insurance.
1. Research and explore your health insurance options before the divorce is complete.
2. Obtain a copy of health insurance
1. Make a list of all assets such as furniture, art, and jewelry
2. Calculate the approximate value of each item
3. Make a list of what is important to you and you want to keep
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Determine if you need to revoke any power of attorney documents that may list your spouse as your agent.
If you own a business, contact an attorney. There are several documents that may need to be disclosed.
AFTER THE DIVORCE
If you have done a lot of the steps before then you won’t have to do much afterward.
1. Change beneficiaries on retirement and investment accounts.
2. Amend your will.
3. TAKE A DEEP BREATH