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Pre-Divorce Planning Checklist

Pre-Divorce Planning Checklist

  1. Start Saving Money
    • When it comes to a divorce, you need to have a cash cushion to pay household and living expenses while you are going through the process if you are not working or do not make enough to support the household.  It is not uncommon for the spouse who has historically paid all the expenses to refuse to do so if he or she does not want the divorce or is looking for a way to “get even”. Although a court can order temporary support, there could be several weeks to a month before you can get in front of a judge.  We recommend having at least 1-2 months of living expenses set aside so that you are not left at the mercy of friends or family if your soon to be ex does not provide financial support at the outset of your case.
  2. Gather All Your Financial Documents and Information
    • As soon as the divorce is filed, Massachusetts has what is called “mandatory self-disclosure” meaning both sides exchange preliminary financial information such as bank statements, tax returns, and loan applications.  It is best to have these in order and ready for your attorney to review at the outset of your case so that you aren’t scrambling to collect everything at the eleventh hour.
  3. Find and Consult a Parenting Coach
    • If you and your ex do not communicate well and have difficulty co-parenting, you may want to start shopping around for a parenting coach or a parenting coordinator.  A parenting coordinator can help resolve disputes before they happen.
    • Parenting coordinators are professionals who have been specifically trained to work with couples in high-conflict parenting situations. Their work focuses on helping parents manage communicate better and manage their parenting plan.  improve The role of a parenting coordinator will vary based on what a family needs and what the court may stipulate, but often involves dispute resolution.
  4. Find a Good Divorce Attorney
    • The importance of quality legal counsel cannot be overestimated.  The divorce attorney you choose to represent should be relatively local so that if you need to meet with them it is not a big inconvenience.  Make sure your attorney is professional and knowledgeable as well. A good divorce lawyer is responsive to your questions and communicates well. The attorney you choose is going to be someone you are going to be spending a fair amount of time with and sharing your struggles with so it should be someone you trust and feel comfortable.
    • At the Wright Family Law Group, our philosophy toward divorce and resulted in positive outcomes for many of our satisfied clients. We  recognize the importance of your children work hard to put them first in the legal process by not making unreasonable child support demands or custody arrangements that are not practicable.
    • Divorce is a very emotional process and the outcome can have a significant impact on your life and your future. While there are no guarantees and there are many decisions that need to be made, finding a lawyer like those at the Wright Family Law Group, who listens to what you want and advises you well can make all the difference in the outcome.
  5. Figure Out How You’ll Live AND Make a Budget
    • Your financial situation may undergo significant change as the result of a divorce. While there are those who will find themselves in a better position post-divorce. There other the loss of your spouse’s income contribution to the household could be greater than your drop in expenses.
    • Either way, a post-divorce budget will let you know where you stand with your finances, help you avoid getting whacked with surprise expenditures, and keep you on a steady course of financial stability.
    • If your former spouse was the family budgeter, don’t panic. Developing a budget doesn’t require a huge time commitment, and you don’t need an advanced degree in finance or accounting to develop one.
  6. Get a Support System
    • If you are facing divorce, we strongly encourage all of our clients to get a solid support system in place to help with the emotional challenges that are going to be part of the landscape.
    • Many people will seek counseling or therapy which can be very beneficial helping people gain a new perspective and regain control of their lives during and after the divorce process. A good therapist or counselor can help you work through unresolved feelings and make sense of the divorce. Often times people may gain a deeper knowledge of themselves and learn about their needs and preferences in relationships.
    • If there is a waitlist for therapy you cannot find a therapist that accepts your insurance, another option is a divorce support group.  Befriending other people who are traveling the same journey as you can help you stay positive through the tough times and realize that divorce isn’t the end.  It can be very helpful talking with and hearing from others who are in the same position as you. You are likely to find that there are others who understand what you’re feeling and going through and hearing how others have made it through their own divorces can also make navigating your own easier.
    • Divorcecare.org is one such support group that meets throughout Massachusetts and can provide you with the help you need to face the stress of the divorce process.
  7. Get Your Credit Report
    • Going through divorce is difficult enough, but discovering your credit has been damaged in the process can definitely add insult to injury.  Getting a copy of your credit report early in the process can help you know where you stand and can help you lawyer make sure your court required financial statement is accurate.
    • Once you get your credit report, make sure all of the information is correct and that none of your ex’s information or accounts are showing up. If you find mistakes or accounts you don’t recognize, you should contact the credit bureau to have the error corrected. Once the dispute process is completed, you will receive notification from the credit bureau along with an updated copy of your credit report.
    • You can protect your credit by faithfully ensuring all debts are paid. Close the joint accounts or get your spouse to agree to remove themselves from them. This can prevent a spouse from putting any more debt on the joint cards. Make sure your lawyer is aware of what you’ve done so the debt can be taken into account when the debts are equally distributed.
  8.  Open a Post Office Box
    • Opening your own post office box will ensure that your ex will not have access to your mail and will make sure all mail from your divorce professionals and financial institutions will remain secure. You may also find that you receive your mail a bit faster, since it only has to go to the post office and not wait to be delivered by the postal carrier. This can be especially important for those items from your lawyer that require a timely response.
    • To learn more about pre-divorce planning, call us today toll free at 978-851-2291, or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
    • For your convenience, appointments may be scheduled during flexible hours. Our office is centrally located in Tewksbury near Route 93 and Route 495. We serve clients in Middlesex and Essex County.