A Checklist: Getting Divorced Successfully
Save a cushion for living expenses.
Legal fees will certainly be an expense, though most couples going through a divorce don't think or financially plan far enough ahead. In fact, accounting for future living expenses is oftentimes the first, most important step I see couples mistakenly ignore.
To be safe, we recommend two to four months of living expenses saved up prior to filing for divorce. This will give you a needed cushion to support your mortgage/rent, car payments, living expenses including food, cell phone, child care, utilities, and other marital debt(s).
In short, ready your finances and be conservative with both saving and spending—doable with a well-devised plan that helps you avoid any slip-ups.
Once we help you file for divorce, too, we can request a temporary support order asking the breadwinner spouse to continue paying the family expenses during the course of the divorce process. These are referenced as Temporary Orders.
Temporary Orders are filed immediately on the same day as the filing of the divorce complaint. The Temporary Orders a request made by you, specifically asking for specific ruling such as ordering your spouse to continue to pay the mortgage while going through a divorce, paying temporary child support, or following an order of custody.
Maintain a steady budget for everyday expenses.
This goes hand-in-hand with saving a cushion for everyday expenses—maintain a healthy budget, before, during, and after your divorce. Err on the side of caution knowing your financial situation could undergo substantial change—positive or negative—once you file your case. And if your former spouse handled the finances, don't worry. Our team of family lawyers can set you up with the right tools, resources, and a realistic budget to follow.
Keep your mail private with a P.O. Box.
Practical advice goes the distance when you're working through a divorce. Deny your significant other access to your private mail by opening up a P.O. Box prior to filing for divorce. In doing so, you'll get much-needed peace-of-mind knowing your former spouse can no longer see your personal information—financial documents, time-sensitive documents from your attorney, or personal mail, among others. Be sure to request that your local post office forwards your mail right away so that any mail from your home is directed to your P.O. box.
Organize your financial documents for transparency.
Both parties involved in a divorce are required to self-disclose any and all financial information, per Massachusetts law.
Knowing this is an important, upfront requirement, we recommend having facts and figures ready to share with your attorney at the onset of filling. Get your financial documents organized, which might include tax returns, paystubs, mortgages, and car statements, retirement accounts, and deeds. It's important to try and get copies of your soon-to-be ex's financial documents such as 401k statements, bank statements, pay stubs, and credit card statements are beneficial.
Use a parenting coach for an easy transition.
In an uncertain time, a parenting coach can be a positive force of light and guidance for both spouses and children navigating the pains of divorce. A parenting coach works dutifully alongside both parents to build successful strategies, also while setting meaningful intentions to help transition your child or children from one—to dual households.
Real life examples of how a parenting coach benefits the divorce process might include setting up visitations, arranging work schedules and sports activities, doctor's appointments and more.
Get a handle on your credit.
Finding out that your credit score has been damaged during or after your divorce can be crushing, especially true if you could have proactively taken steps to avoid such an outcome. Request a copy of your credit score from a credible financial source such as Wallethub—the only known, free reporting site that updates your score daily. Not only will this highlight your personal financial standing, you'll be able to see any suspicious activity brought on by your former spouses, such as missing mortgage payments or other negative actions that might hinder your score. Review your report and be sure all information is correct. If there are any inaccuracies, you have free reign to dispute them.
Finally, this will help your attorney clearly see any and all marital-related debt or issues that need to be addressed or disclosed.
Close all of your joint accounts.
If you've shared a bank account with your significant other for several years—as more than half of married couples do—it's easy to overlook your joint account(s) and how to handle or manage them during your divorce. As we've discussed in detail regarding your credit score, it's important to consider closing out all of your joint accounts, especially if you're the authorized user, to proactively avoid any negative activity or wrongdoing on the part of your spouse that might harm your credit score and future ability to take out loans, credit cards and so forth.
Get yourself a good support system.
Divorce isn't just a quick transaction, it's a journey. And starting over after experiencing what can be an emotional rollercoaster warrant a shoulder to lean on.
Certainly rely on friends, family or colleagues for support to help you through the pain and grief process, though we see many of our clients have great success with individual counseling or group therapy as their core support system. In addition, there's online classes, courses, or Facebook groups that focus on, and help with, managing through marital dissolution and the related physical and emotional stresses.
It's helpful to engage and interact with other people who have experience with divorce or other folks that have walked in your shoes that can provide helpful tips, insights and solutions and overall, help you stay positive.
Find a qualified divorce attorney to represent you.
The risks of divorce without an attorney far outweigh attorney fees. It's all too common for formerly married couples to disagree on one or all three primary issues including child support, alimony, and/or division of property or assets. One of the many benefits of having an attorney at your side is the ability to solve problems more efficiently and effectively—both with your spouse and the court system, from start to finish. Not only should you consider a family lawyer with proven experience and knowledge, but he or she also should have a positive reputation for results and professionalism. In addition to this, your family attorney should be personable and easy to work with, from communication to meeting deadlines to delivering on his or her promises.
At The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers, P.C., you'll quickly see our philosophy at work as early as our free consultation when you get a sneak preview of our approach, examples of customer successes, belief system, and other relevant information that will best help you choose an attorney that's right for you.
Filing for divorce isn't an easy choice. Whether you're in the early stages of considering divorce as an option or in the later stages of choosing an attorney, learn more about pre-divorce planning by calling us today, toll-free, at 978-851-2291.
For your convenience, we're hosting free consultations in-person or via Zoom during flexible hours. Our office is located in Reading, Massachusetts at the interchange of Route 93 and Route 128/95.
The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers provides services to the following counties—Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex.