How to Prepare for a Divorce
March 17th, 2023
Even when spouses agree to part ways, divorce can be an overwhelming chapter of your life. But there are a number of things you can do to prepare to help ensure the process runs smoothly. How to prepare for a divorce comes down to being organized and ensuring you take the time to gather your financial documents, create a budget, and get the legal assistance you need. However, you should also consider the emotional changes that will occur in your post-divorce life — and take some time for self-care. Here’s how to prepare for a divorce:
Gather Your Financial DocumentsOne of the first things you should do when you know divorce is imminent is gather your financial records. These can include tax returns, bank statements, loan information, investment account statements, employment information, retirement account information, and any other financial documents. Not only will these be necessary for negotiating a fair settlement, but complete financial disclosure is often required in divorce. Since these documents can often be time consuming to gather, it’s best to collect them ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary stress.
Take Inventory of Your Property, Debts, and AssetsOregon is an equitable distribution state, meaning property is not necessarily divided 50/50, but in a way that is fair. Make a list of any property, debts, and assets you have, including those you acquired on your own and those you acquired with your spouse. Your inventory should include any physical property such as vehicles, real estate, jewelry, artwork, and valuable furniture. You should also list retirement accounts, bank accounts, gym memberships, and digital assets. Spouses can negotiate a settlement dividing these assets — or, if they cannot reach an agreement, a judge will divide them for you.
Keep Your Children Out of the DivorceDivorce isn’t just hard on the spouses. It can be a challenging time for children as well. As you are preparing for divorce, it’s critical to think about their wellbeing. Although you may have the best intentions, it can be all too easy to unknowingly bring your children into the divorce. Be sure not to make any negative comments about the other parent to your children or use them as a messenger. You should also try to resolve custody disputes out of the courtroom — while always remaining focused on the best interests of your children. Remember that children have the right to love and be loved by each parent, even if you no longer love that other parent. Children know that they are a part of each of you.
Take Steps to Start Life on Your OwnLife after divorce may be very different from life when you were married. Instead of being able to rely on two incomes, you will only have one. It’s important to develop a new financial plan and create a realistic post-divorce budget that you can stick to. You may also need to find alternative living arrangements if you will not be keeping the family home.
Stay Current on Your BillsUntil the date of dissolution, all debts and assets acquired during the marriage are considered joint — even if only your partner's name appears on the debt. Until you reach a marital settlement agreement or the court enters a judgment, you are each obligated to make your monthly and periodic payments. For instance, if you are keeping the house or one of the cars, and your spouse had been making those payments but fails to do so during the divorce process, the loans can go into default. You may need to make arrangements in order to protect your future interests and pay those debts.
Consult with an AttorneyIt’s essential to speak with an attorney as soon as you know that divorce is imminent. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you regarding your legal rights and how to prepare for divorce when it comes to your specific situation. They can also help to guide you through the legal process and ensure you avoid any potential pitfalls.
Consider Alternatives to LitigationThere are several out-of-court alternatives to litigation you should consider to divorce. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or collaborative divorce can offer many benefits to divorcing spouses — and help them put their children first. These methods can also allow spouses to divorce with less conflict, more privacy, and reduce the costs that are often associated with litigation.
Seek the Emotional Support You NeedThe divorce process can take an emotional toll, and it’s vital to take time for self-care. Seek the support you need, whether it’s finding a friend or family member who you can confide in — or a therapist who can teach you coping techniques and work through the emotions that arise when you end a relationship. You might also consider a support group where you can share your feelings with people who are in the same situation as you and understand what you are going through.
Contact an Experienced Oregon Divorce AttorneyEnding a marriage can bring many changes to your life and it’s essential to know how to prepare for a divorce. A skilled and compassionate Oregon divorce and family law attorney can protect your interests and help you move forward. Based in Salem, Litowich Law is dedicated to providing clients throughout Oregon with compassionate counsel and reliable representation for a wide variety of divorce and family law matters. We welcome you to contact us to schedule a consultation.