Five Tips To Consider Before You File For Divorce

There is no doubt that divorce is one of the most devastating events that can occur in one’s life.  Whether you are the one filing for divorce or your spouse is filing against you, emotions often cloud reasonable judgment.  This prevents rational decision making.

Nonetheless, there are five tips that you can use to protect yourself before proceeding with a divorce:

1) Meet with and retain competent counsel

The most important thing to do when faced with a divorce is to understand the law and your rights and what is the expected outcome of the case. Even if you are considering mediation and not planning to litigate the case, an attorney versed in family law is an invaluable asset in assisting you to arrive at the best possible settlement.

It is important that you choose the attorney who is best suited to your personality and needs. This is someone who will listen to your concerns, answer your questions and responds to you promptly.

2) Secure Funds

Once parties separate they are now sustaining two households on the same monies that previously supported one. Not to mention there are costs associated with the divorce itself. If a party is unemployed finances may be even more difficult at least until a temporary support order can be established.

While neither party should dissipate marital funds, if there are joint bank accounts that contain cash, it is usually safe to divide the accounts equally. To the extent there are family members who may be able to assist financially, now is the time to enlist their help.

3) Gather Important Financial Documents

Even if you were not the person who paid the bills or managed the finances during the marriage, you should attempt to gather as much financial information as possible at the outset of the divorce. This can save a lot of money that would otherwise be expended in lawyers’ fees for an attorney to request and gather this information. Items such as tax returns, investment statements, retirement statements and the like are necessary to help determine the value of the marital estate.

4) Understand Your Expenses

It is necessary to obtain a full understanding of your monthly expenses especially if you intend to seek support and/or alimony.  It is also important to monitor monthly spending to assure that monies are not being dissipated.  You may need to cancel joint credit cards if there is a legitimate fear that your spouse will run them up ultimately negatively affecting your credit.

5) Make A Plan For Your Minor Children

Despite the tension between spouses, it is wise to try and shield minor children from the animosity that exists.  It is best if the parties can cooperate to arrive on a mutually acceptable custody arrangement that provides continuing contact with each party and the children. If this is not possible, it may be necessary to seek a court Order to determine custody. Most importantly, it is important to put the needs of the children first, not the desire of the parties.

Following these tips will not necessarily resolve the divorce but will make the process easier.

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Posted in Divorce
77 comments on “Five Tips To Consider Before You File For Divorce
  1. Seth Ashford says:

    This is great advice for anyone concerned about financial situations in their divorce. I agree that understanding your financial situation is a good thing, even if you are not thinking about divorce. Thanks for sharing.

    Seth Ashford | http://www.donphelpsfamilylawvancouver.com/about_us.html

  2. Ashley Reed says:

    I need to file for divorce soon, but I want to make sure that I’m doing it right. I want to make sure that I do it as efficiently as I can, It’s been a long time coming. I didn’t really think about getting my papers into place first, and checking my finances. Thanks for all the great information, this will help me a lot. http://www.lindsaysavona.com

  3. These tips are great if the split is of two mature adults. When people get divorced, they loose their maturity. Do you know of any tips that can help people be mature enough to reach agreements?

  4. Nora Moore says:

    That’s true that you now have to pay for two households with the same money that used to pay for one. Separation and divorce take more money than a lot of people realize, I think. That’s also a good tip to understand your expenses. It would be horrible if they ran up your credit out of spite. Those things happen, though.

  5. I think that you are absolutely correct about the importance of obtaining legal counsel, even if things don’t go to court. Divorce can be a tricky thing that presents legal questions and issues that most people aren’t equipped to deal with alone. Having a legal expert who specializes in family law to counsel you should only serve to help the process.

  6. Laila says:

    I think one of the most important things you can do is plan for your children that are still minors. I think this is the hardest part about family law. You and your spouse want to see the children, but it can be hard to decide who gets to let them live with them and the vacation time you have with them. I like what you said about putting the needs of the children first. That is one thing that will really help to determine what is best for them.

  7. Davey Hiltzs says:

    This is very helpful, thank you. I’m glad that we didn’t have children before we filed this divorce. I know that children always make things very hard on a couple when it comes to divorce. I’ll have to take your advice to get my finances in order more seriously. That seems to be the biggest problem while your in the middle of a case.
    http://www.lonsdalelaw.ca/en/family_and_matrimonial_law.html

  8. Brooke Bowen says:

    I agree that it’s important to know how much you are willing to spend on your family attorney. Knowing this can make things a lot easier and more simple in the long run. Not only that, but you also won’t be caught off guard by any expenses by the end of everything. It really is the best way to go!

  9. Nora Moore says:

    That’s a good idea know what your expenses are like before you try to go to court. There are a lot of things to consider when you’re starting the procedes for a divorce. Remembering to get a copy of financial documents can save you a lot of hassle later, though. I hope that I’ll have all the documents I need so we don’t have to request them later.

  10. Ashley Reed says:

    I’m hoping that my husband and I will be able to figure out what to do with the kids without going to court. He works all day long, so it makes sense that they should live with me. He would be able to see them any time, and have them most weekends. I don’t think he’ll object to that, he wouldn’t want to raise them on his own anyways.

  11. Correy Smith says:

    Jennifer, it sounds like you know quite well about what to do before a divorce. I know that right now, my uncle is going through some hard times in a divorce. So far he has been able to talk to his family lawyer but the only thing that is slowing down the process is a document with all the financial stuff that the judge had asked of him. http://northsidelawyers.com.au/services/family-law/

  12. Peter says:

    Useful tips and great advice. All of your points are important for persons who are in situation of divorce. Your tips will make the process much easier. Thanks for sharing.
    Scott Brook: http://www.scottjbrookpa.com/

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Scott, thank you so much for your kind comments. They are really appreciated. Hope you will continue to read my blog! Regards, Jennifer

  13. melody brown says:

    I like that you mentioned canceling credit cards. My mom got into a lot of credit card debt before she and my dad divorced. It ruined his credit, and he had to suffer the consequences for her actions. I will definitely remember to cancel credit cards, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  14. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that a family law attorney could be useful, even if the divorce isn’t going to court. My brother is going through a divorce, but he hasn’t hired a lawyer because it’s not being litigated. There are some things I think he doesn’t know much about, so I think an attorney could be useful to him. I’ll definitely talk to him about hiring one. Thanks for the great post!

  15. Drew says:

    Great advice for what to consider before filing for divorce. You should get all necessary paperwork ready before starting anything. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. My sister just told me yesterday that she is getting a divorce. I want to help her as much as possible. I don’t think they will have problems splitting their belongings, but I agree with you, I think having a good attorney just in case is always a good option. Thanks for valuable tips!

  17. Aspen Bowen says:

    I agree with what you said about making a plan for minor children. It makes sense that you should consider what is best for the child especially because the divorce will affect them too. My husband and I have been talking about divorce, so I will try to work something out with him to make the process a little easier.

  18. Hope Gleason says:

    Great advice. Being prepared, both emotionally and with your materials is so important.

  19. Luke Smith says:

    It seems that getting good legal work nowadays is very important. Plus getting your finances all figured out is very helpful. I would imagine that by doing so you can get the best legal help you need.

  20. I like what this article mentions about the finances of divorce and support. I think this is a subject that this shouldn’t be taken lightly as it could really make a difference with both parties. It’s definitive something to keep in mind for my divorce. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Divorce can be a really hard thing to deal with emotionally, as well as financially. When considering divorce, make sure that you know all of the money things that go with it. Looking into financial services prior to it will help you know everything to expect.

  22. Luke Smith says:

    I can only imagine how expensive a divorce would be. I agree that it would be smart to have a handle on your expenses, and know where the money is going. That sounds like some of the best advice to do when going through a divorce.

  23. Jennifer, your advice about gathering important financial documents are what got my attention. The reason is because it got me thinking about my son’s situation. He’s in one where a divorce attorney is helping him get custody of his kids and end the divorce case.

  24. I really like your tip about making a plan for your kids. My sister and her husband are going to be filing for divorce soon and making sure that their kids are going to be taken care of is really important. My sister is searching for a family law attorney currently so I will have to pass these tips on to her so that she can look through them.

  25. Nash Rich says:

    I know what divorce is, but I’m not sure I understand how it all works out. I would have to learn all of that stuff and have someone walk me through it. In the end of it all, I think considering what’s best for children is the top priority.

  26. Hazel Owens says:

    I agree that finding a competent lawyer, regardless of how you want your divorce to pan out, can be beneficial. I’ve seen plenty of friends and family members go through a divorce in my day, and those that had a lawyer to represent them usually did a lot better in courts than those who didn’t. It may seem expensive at first, but the price is usually worth it in the end. Thanks for the article.

  27. My sister has always been a stay at home mom and just recently told me she is getting a divorce. She’s trying to do it all on her own to save money because she doesn’t think she can afford a lawyer. I think she needs to take your counsel and secure some funds before she continues. Also, I need to convince her somehow to get herself a lawyer.

  28. Maggie Allen says:

    Thanks for sharing! I really like your last point about making a plan for your minor children. In a lot of divorces, I imagine that parents have a general idea of where they want their kids to be, but it’s usually just that— an idea. Having a well-thought out plan would help you and your lawyer have clearer expectations, and you’ll probably be more consistent then. Plus, that means that you’ll have a detailed plan on the table when negotiating custody with the other party; that could make discussions a lot faster.

  29. Ruth Belmont says:

    Very nice post.I really liked all the tips. It was really helpful.My friend is filing a divorce in few months so I will definitely share this post with him. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Jade Brunet says:

    I have a friend who is considering a divorce. These points were very informative of what to look at before going through with this process. It is good to know that expenses need to be understood. I find that it would be beneficial to find a lawyer to help plan legitimate alimony payments.

  31. I loved your tips about securing your funds and gathering all of the right documents. Things tend to go a lot smoother if you’re organized and prepared. Hopefully, my sister’s case will be as painless as possible.

  32. I think that it is hard to consider all of the consequences for every action. For example, one might not have considered what you said about how two households would have to be supported by the same net income that had previously supported one. It is sad how high the divorce rate has climbed. Thank you for playing a part to eliminate some of the unnecessary factors in that statistic.

  33. Thank you for the great information. I am new to this situation and dont want to get taken advantage of i will follow these 5 steps. thank you again>

  34. Kerns Betty says:

    I will follow these 5 tips. They have helped me lessen my anxiety

  35. If I am considering a divorce what should be my first step?

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Gather as much information about the process as possible. Schedule a meeting with an attorney who specializes in divorce so that you can understand your legal rights. Good luck!

  36. I love tip 5 no matter how nasty it gets you have to protect your on your children.

  37. Danni Black says:

    I really like your third tip “gather important financial documents” because those will be really important once the whole process starts. My sister and her husband have decided to get a divorce so I’ll have to pass these tips on to her. Hopefully, the process will be able to go smoothly and they won’t have to go to court over the splitting of money and other things.

  38. hi, I just wanted to say how much i enjoy reading your blog. in a world full of spin, it’s nice to get some fact-based analysis. keep up the good work.

  39. Caudle-Law says:

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

  40. I like that you talked about making sure you get good representation. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t know enough about divorce law to try to manage any part of it myself. It does seem best to have a good lawyer help you get through the stress of a divorce.

  41. Great tips. It is so important to have a decent plan laid out before you actually start. It’s unfortunately quite common for people to rush into their divorce (understandably) without thinking about their financial situation, documents etc.

  42. Sarah Smith says:

    My sister is planning on getting a divorce and needs some legal advice. Gathering important financial documents is a smart idea so that you can save a lot of money the would otherwise be expended in lawyer’s fees. Another thing to consider is to get legal advice from someone that you trust and are comfortable with. That way, you are more likely to follow their advice.

  43. Cindy Tesler says:

    I agree that it’s your responsibility to understand your rights and what is expected in your case. You also said that if there any accounts that are in both names, you should divide it up equally. I think it’s a good idea to choose a family lawyer that offers a free first consultation meeting to make sure that you’re a good fit.

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Thanks for your comment, Cindy. Just remember that you get what you pay for, so a lawyer that offers a free consultation may not give you much insight on their practice or what they can really do for you. I usually recommend that you plan on paying for two consultations. While it might be expensive in the short run, in the long-run this investment can save you a lot of time and money because you often are better able to assess whether the lawyer will be a good fit when you get more information from them.

  44. Georgia B says:

    I’m really glad you recommend finding a lawyer that is best suited to your personality and needs. Just because someone has the right credentials doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your situation. It’s so true that choosing an attorney that will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and respond to you promptly should be the priority.

  45. John Ferrell says:

    I like that you said that we should collect as much financial information as possible. If you have the legal information then I think that it will be easier for your lawyer to help you. You might have an easier time if you don’t have to worry about the financial documentation stress.

  46. Vince says:

    It’s really important to understand all expenses. And when you choose an attorney, you’ll need to know an estimate or get an upfront flat fee for pricing. Budgeting should be a priority so you don’t freak out with stress when it comes to money matters.

  47. jresquival says:

    That’s a good tip to split financial assets equally when going through a divorce. That could help your financial stability at that time. My friend is going through a divorce and he’s had to get an apartment temporarily.

  48. John says:

    I think the most important tip that was mentioned in the article is your choice of an attorney. Like the article says, understanding the law and your rights is the most important thing to do when faced with a divorce. An attorney experienced with divorce law would be very valuable in my opinion since they would be able to help you navigate the paperwork associated with a divorce.

  49. Thank you for the great information regarding what to do when looking for a family law solicitor and things to think about before you do. My wife and I are thinking about getting divorced, so we need to think about making a plan for our children. I never knew that there were so many steps in making sure everything ends up okay. Thanks for the advice!

  50. Gathering as much financial information as possible at the outset of the divorce is good advice. Making sure you have all the divorce papers you need would probably help you be able to figure everything out more effectively. I would imagine that you’d probably want to make sure your papers are organized properly and kept in a secure place so that you can go through them easily in order to find the information you need.

  51. A friend of mine was telling me that he might need to get a divorce, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to hire a lawyer. I really like that you say that they can help you understand the process that you are going to go through. It would be nice to make sure that everything will go smoothly and that you have everything that you need.

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Frank, it is crucial that if someone is contemplating a divorce that they get some legal advice before they do so. Once a divorce is complete, it is irreversible, so it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities before you move forward. Also, because divorce laws vary from state to state, the general information about divorce that one can obtain on the internet or through other sources may not even pertain to their particular case. Thank you for reading my blog.

  52. Sarah Smith says:

    My sister is getting a divorce and needs help. I appreciate the information about how you should secure funds, so that you have enough for all of the costs associated with the divorce. Something else to consider is to get an attorney that you like and get along with. That way, you will be more willing to trust them and follow their advice.

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Sarah, most importantly, you need to feel confident in your attorney and be able to communicate with them. Thank you for reading my blog and for your comment.

  53. A friend of mine might be going through divorce and is looking for a good attorney to help him out. You wrote that an important part of divorce is making sure that you gather all the important financial documents, as it can help easily determine things like the value of the marital estate. I know my friend has been worried about staying financially stable, so I’ll be sure to advise that he gather those documents for his attorney, so that everything can go smoothly. Thanks for the tips.

  54. LNWeaver says:

    That’s a good tip to make sure you have money. Divorces can be expensive. That’s why my mom always told to have “walking away money”.

  55. Thanks for your comment about putting the attorney hiring step before actually filing for divorce. I imagine that even the way that you go about filing could have an impact on the outcome, so having help every step of the way would make sense. It would probably also be important to find an attorney who’s personality makes you feel comfortable so you can be completely open and honest with them.

    • Jennifer A. Brandt says:

      Absolutely. I always advise clients that they must find an attorney with whom they feel comfortable. Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog!

  56. I am currently looking at getting a divorce from my husband. This is a big decision and can be a difficult process, so I want to make sure I am positive this is the right thing for me and that I do everything possible to make it go smoothly. Thanks for sharing these tips on what to consider before filing for divorce. I hadn’t thought about gathering financial information to help determine the value of the marital state, but I’ll be sure to do that.

  57. I think it is great advice to put the needs of your children before your own when considering getting a divorce. Deciding on a mutually acceptable custody arrangement, or one that is court-ordered, should be the first priority. My parents got divorced after I moved out, but my younger brother was 11 at the time. Luckily, our parents came to an amicable agreement early on. Just knowing where they will be spending their time must provide a sense of relief and stability for kids that age.

  58. Max says:

    My sister is going through a divorce right now, and I think that it would be really helpful for her to get some help from a family law professional. I like how you talked about making sure that you get all the financial information together to help deal with potential issues that could come up in her family law case. I’m going to have to share your article with her and see if we can get her documents in order before we get help from a good family law firm to get things taken care of! Thanks for the tip!

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About Family Law Focus
The Family Law Focus blog provides highlights, updates and insights on complex family disputes including divorce, division of property, and alimony; child and spousal support; child custody; domestic violence; pre- and post-nuptial agreements; name changes; and adoption or termination of parental rights.
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The Editor

Jennifer A. Brandt, of Cozen O'Connor's Family Law practice, has represented a wide variety of clients in hundreds of family law cases throughout her career. Jennifer is a regular legal commentator on national and local television outlets such as CNN, Fox New Network, HLN, MSNBC, Fox29, ABC News, NBC and CBS and frequently writes and contributes to articles in numerous publications, including the Huffington Post, Fox Business.com, The PhiIly Post, Avvo.com, Allparenting.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Business Journal, the National Law Journal, and Main Line Today magazine.
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