Easy-to-Follow Divorce Checklist
Divorce is an unfortunate end to many people’s marriages, and without a divorce checklist to help keep organized, chaos can overtake an already frazzling situation. If you’ve found yourself at the end of a marriage and need a little guidance to help keep you focused and prioritized, use this divorce checklist to make sure you don’t overlook important items or do anything tat may cost you additional time, stress, and money.
Things to Do Before You File
- Let your lawyer know whether or not a prenuptial agreement is in effect. This will save a great deal of time and money.
- Compile a list (preferably an easy-to-read spreadsheet) for your lawyer, stating names and ages of children, each spouse’s income and any employee benefits, life insurance policies, and education and degrees earned by each spouse. If a prenuptial agreement is not in effect, these things will go a long way towards deciding finances after the divorce in complete.
- Be sure to create a complete inventory of all property (owned jointly or separately) during the course of the marriage.
- Run a credit check to learn where all of your debt is and what your remaining balances are.
- Contact your credit card companies and find out if they will be able to open new cards for you and possibly your spouse after filing for divorce. This is a necessary step, since any shared credit cards should be turned off at the time of filing to prevent an upset spouse from “revenge shopping,”
- Find out where all of your cash and any liquid assets are. Notify your attorney so that they can be protected during the proceedings.
- Find out how your lawyer bills you for time. Some lawyers charge strictly by the hour, but some will break it down to 30 or even 15 minute increments for you. This is important, because while it is helpful to keep contact short for you, if you are going to be charged automatically for 30 minutes of time, you may as well get your money’s worth.
Things to Do Once You’ve Filed
- Once you’ve filed the lawsuit, be sure that you quickly turn off all of your credit cards. You should know by this point whether or not your credit card companies will issue new cards for you and your spouse that the other will have no access to.
- You will likely have many questions and concerns that you would like your attorney and their paralegal assistant to answer for you. Before calling, you should compile a list of what you want to ask. This will reduce the likelihood of repeat phone calls that can result in hundreds of dollars worth of lawyer fees. Find out if you can fax the questions to your lawyer ahead of time as well. This can help avoid confusion and miscommunication and can end up saving you money in repeat calls as well.
Things to Avoid Doing
- Do not try to be sneaky and hide your assets or money by cleaning out your bank accounts.
- Don’t send your lawyer a bunch of emails with personal information. While some lawyers don’t mind corresponding this way, many find it unsafe and prefer to communicate over the phone, in person, via fax, or through the use of a courier.
- Don’t agree to anything, settlement or otherwise, without your lawyer’s approval. You may be tempted to for the sake of ending the turmoil, but your lawyer is there to protect your interests, so let them.
Divorce is no picnic, but there are ways to get through it relatively unscathed. Take your lawyer’s advice. Don’t make rash decisions. Trust in the future you are procuring for yourself. This divorce checklist is intended to point you in the right direction. Your attorney will be able to provide you with additional specifics.