Dealing with divorce

Divorce can be a lengthy process that may strain your finances and leave you feeling out of control.  But with the right preparation, you can protect your interests, take charge of your future, and save yourself time and money.   

Should you hire an attorney? 

There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney when divorcing.  However, most divorcing couples hire attorneys to better protect their interests, even though doing so can be expensive.  The charges will depend on the complexity of the case, the reputation and experience of the divorce attorney, and your geographical location. If you and your spouse can agree on most issues, you may save time and money by filing an uncontested divorce.  If you can’t agree on significant issues, you may want to meet with a divorce mediator, who can help you resolve issues that the two of you can’t resolve alone.   

Consider some big questions: 

Although your divorce professional will help you work through the big issues, you might want to think about the following questions: 

  • If you have children, what are your wishes regarding custody, visitation, and child support? 
  • Whose health insurance plan should cover the children 
  • Do you earn enough money to adequately support yourself, or should alimony be considered? 
  • Which assets do you really want, and which are you willing to let your spouse keep? 
  • How do you feel about your family home? Do you feel strongly about living there, or should it be sold or allotted to your spouse? 
  • Will you have enough money to pay the outstanding debt on whatever assets you keep? 

Save time and money by doing your homework before meeting with a divorce professional 

To save time and money, compile as much of the following information as you can before meeting with an attorney or other divorce professional: 

  • Each spouse DOB 
  • Names and birth dates of children, if you have any 
  • Date and place of marriage and length of time in present state 
  • Existence of prenuptial agreement 
  • Information about parties’ prior marriages, children, etc. 
  • Date of separation and grounds for divorce 
  • Current occupation and name and address of employer for each spouse 
  • Social security number for each spouse 
  • Income of each spouse 
  • Education, degrees, and training of each spouse 
  • Extent of employee benefits for each spouse 
  • Joint assets of the parties 
  • Liabilities and debts of each spouse 
  • Financial records