In the wake of the coronavirus, China saw a massive surge in the number of divorce cases filed. So, will the same thing happen in the U.S.? Will the divorce rate spike after couples have spent months quarantined together, having had the chance to reflect on the marriage, why it isn’t working and what they want for their future? Experts are saying yes. In the past couple of weeks, I have personally seen an influx in inquiries from potential clients looking to hire me for their divorce. One of the first things we discuss is preparing for divorce, specifically a checklist of what to do initially.
Preparing for divorce can feel uncomfortable, scary, depressing, and even sneaky, probably because preparing for divorce makes the divorce a reality. Maybe you’ve thought about it for years, but preparing for it is taking action, and that might mean preparing for it before telling your spouse you want a divorce.
Here is a checklist of 10 things you can in preparing for divorce:
1. Consider speaking with a marriage counselor…
to determine whether divorce is the best option, or if there’s a possibility that with good communication, changes and effort, the marriage could work out and even thrive.
2. Get the following documents in order:
a. Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements;
b. Last 3-5 years of taxes;
c. Most recent pay stubs or pay statements;
d. Insurance policies;
e. Retirement account balances;
f. Pension statements;
3. Make a list of all of your assets including: bank accounts, real estate property and other valuables such as jewelry, antiques, art, etc;
4. Make a list of all of your debts including credit card debt.
5. Moving forward, attempt to keep your personal funds and marital funds separate;
6. Get acquainted with the household financials.
Whether or not you are the person in your marriage who typically handles the finances and pays the bills, now is the time to gain an understanding of monthly expenses. How much is being spent and on what? How much is deposited into your bank accounts each month? Are there money transfers that take place each month? It’s important to have a thorough understanding of your financial lifestyle at the present moment, as this will be considered in financial decisions of the divorce.
7. Find your will and trust and review it.
Once your divorce is final, you will have to update these documents.
8. Start keeping records of your living expenses.
This is important to determine how much money you would need to cover your expenses after the divorce in comparison to how much money is needed to pay the expenses while you are currently married.
9. Set realistic goals for what you want out of your divorce.
This includes parenting time for you and your potential ex-spouse, division of assets and household items that you want and don’t want. It might make sense to see a therapist to discuss these issues, and why you are setting these goals. Talk through what you see as your post-divorce life.
10. Contact and hire an attorney to guide you through the initial steps.
Your attorney can help you with a specific plan and answer the countless questions you might have for going through a divorce and post-divorce life.
Going through a divorce isn’t easy. In fact, it might be one of the most difficult life experiences you’ll ever face. Preparing for divorce can make the transition a lot easier, reducing a lot of anxiety that stems from fear of the unknown. If you need to talk, I’m here for you.
Tiffany M. Hughes is a divorce attorney and Managing Partner of The Law office of Tiffany M. Hughes. Awarded as a Top 100 in Lawyers Magazine in 2018 and 2019, Hughes represents individuals in all aspects of family and matrimonial law proceedings, including litigation, mediation, allocation of parental responsibility (formerly known as custody), parentage, divorce and other child-related matters.
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