What should you do in preparation for a divorce? Well, there are lots of things you can do.
I typically tell my clients to establish their credit. If they don’t have any credit cards, now’s a good time to get some credit for emergencies. The good thing about applying for credit while you’re still married is that you can apply using your family income. So that would include your spouse’s income. After you guys separate, you probably won’t be able to use your spouse’s income because you don’t have the benefit of that income anymore. So the better course of action is to apply for credit while you’re still married. So at least you have some source of funds if your spouse decides to be rather aggressive and tries to cut you off from the bank accounts, leaving you with no access to money.
One of the other things I advise my clients to do is to change their will and change their estate planning documents. If you’re getting ready to go through a divorce, and you happen to die during the divorce, you’re still married as far as the state of Florida is concerned. So if you don’t want your spouse, whom you’re getting ready to divorce, to inherit through your will, then now’s a good time to change your will and other estate planning documents.
One of the other things to do is to pull your free credit report. You can get a free credit report from all three of the major reporting agencies once a year. So it will be a good idea to get that report to see what your credit looks like. What accounts are open, and what accounts might be open that you’re not aware of. Unfortunately, sometimes spouses will open up credit cards or credit card accounts in the other spouse’s name without their knowledge. So it’s a good idea now to get that report and check it out.
Another thing to do is to start gathering all of your financial documents. So get a hold of your tax returns, bank statements, and retirement statements, like a 401K or an IRA. If you have any financial records, now’s a good time to start gathering copies of those. Make sure you have all of the monthly statements.
Also, start preparing a budget. Take a look at what your income is, together with your spouse, what you guys spend your money on, and then begin to estimate what your budget might look like just on your income. I would imagine it’s going to look vastly different. So the sooner you start preparing a budget, just on your income, the better.
Start to build a support group with family, friends, and co-workers, maybe through your church or other religious organization. Support systems are essential. Divorce is the second most stressful event in any person’s life. And so, having a sound support system there for you can be beneficial. So start now.
If you don’t have a secure email address, now it’d be the time to get one. Sometimes people will share their email addresses and passwords with their spouses. Or maybe you and your spouse use a community computer in the center of the house that you share with your kids. You want to ensure that you have a secure email address that your spouse or your children can’t access. So change your password. Get a new email address with a new password. Make sure that password is strong.
Start looking for a great attorney now. There are lots of outstanding divorce attorneys in your area. An excellent place to start is the internet or friends and family. Ask around, look at Google reviews, look at websites. Look at what other people say about their experience working with that attorney. You want to find a good one. So if you make an appointment and have a consultation with one and just don’t click with that person, try somebody else. There are lots of options available for you. Do what you can to find a reasonable attorney who works for you.