Family Law Focus – Cozen O'Connor

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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