Some people make the decision to divorce in an instant. Others find the decision to divorce is a long process that percolates over time. If you are a person who is thinking about divorce and moving towards ending your marriage, then the following actions can help you prepare for divorce and to make the decision about your future:
- Consult a family law attorney.
A lawyer can discuss the specifics of your case with you and give you advice on preparing for a divorce. The lawyer can also help you understand divorce process, cost, and how a divorce will affect your family. The sooner you consult a lawyer, the better prepared you will be.
- Gather financial information.
Financial information is the center of a divorce. From the first time you go to court until the last, financial information is critical to your case. Financial statements must be filled out almost every time you go to court. These forms are signed under the pains and penalties of perjury and must be accurate. When you have documents that accurately explain your financial status, you will save attorney fees and have more accurate financial statements. As you approach a divorce, make copies of financial documents and put them in a safe place where your spouse won’t find them. If you have assets that are not documented like paintings, coin collections, or other collections, you should make a list of these items and photograph them.
- Start tracking your budget.
A financial statement discloses your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Many people have difficulty calculating their expenses. If you start recording your expenditures it will help you complete a financial statement. If you don’t get divorced, you may find that tracking your expenses will help you take command of your budget. If financial problems are damaging your marriage, recording your expenses may help you discuss your issues with your spouse.
- Don’t hide assets.
Courts expect people to be honest. If you get caught hiding assets, you can expect that the Judge will punish you. If you are caught hiding assets, a Judge may charge you with more assets than you actually took. Judges have great discretion in resolution of divorces and you don’t want the Judge to think that you are trying to perpetrate a fraud on the court. You always want the Judge to think that you are honest and acting in good faith.
- Don’t speak ill of your spouse.
If you haven’t decided to end your marriage, trash-talking about your spouse is not going to help your relationship. If you have decided to end your marriage, nothing good will come from saying bad things about your spouse. If you have children you don’t want your children to hear you speaking poorly about your spouse. The same is true for friends and relatives. Any statements you say about your spouse can be brought into court and influence the Judge. If you have a custody battle, these statements may be the basis for awarding custody to your spouse. Remember that bad statements are not limited to verbal statements. Make sure you behave on social media like Facebook. Any postings on the internet may be introduced in court. Don’t post anything that you don’t want a Judge to see.
- Don’t destroy evidence.
If you destroy documents or other evidence, a Judge may treat this as if you are hiding assets. Just as a Court looks to good faith in disclosing financial information, the Court will also look to good faith in preserving evidence. Since social media (Facebook) may be introduced as evidence, you should not destroy postings on social media.
- Get help from a therapist.
The decision to divorce can be one of the most difficult and stressful decisions in a person’s life. Consult a therapist to deal with the stress and possibly the decision about terminating your marriage. Massachusetts health insurance policies have mental health benefits. Consult your health insurance company to understand your coverage and to choose an appropriate therapist who is covered by insurance.