If you have reached the difficult conclusion that you need a divorce, that is likely as far as you have gotten with the matter. The fact is that your divorce will not look exactly like anyone else’s, but the basic tasks that you must accomplish remain the same. Keeping the following pointers in mind can help you proceed with increased confidence.
Every Divorce Must Resolve the Same Issues
Although your divorce will be unique to you and your situation, the terms that you and your divorcing spouse must hammer out between yourselves are the same as everyone else’s, including:
- The division of marital property
- Child custody arrangements
- Child support
All of your divorce concerns will fall into one of these four categories.
You Need Your Own Divorce Attorney
The terms of your divorce will guide your financial future and directly affect your parental rights, which are both far too important to leave to chance. Working closely with an experienced divorce attorney is the surest way to help protect you and your children’s best interests.
Documentation Is Key
The financial components of your divorce will hinge upon documentation, which makes compiling and organizing copies of these financial documents an essential step. Ultimately, the court will divide your marital property in a manner that is considered fair given the circumstances of your marriage and will predicate alimony (if it plays a role) on one spouse's financial ability to help balance the other’s post-divorce financial downturn. These determinations are based upon your marital financials, and all of the following documentation pertains:
- Your mortgage
- Your monthly utility bills
- Your monthly grocery bills
- Your car payments
- You and your spouse’s separate pay stubs
- Statements from your joint and separate bank accounts
- Invoices for your health, car, and life insurance
- Your financial portfolio
- Monthly entertainment costs
- Vehicle and property titles
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
Is It Marital Property?
Generally, those assets that you accumulate during your years as a married couple are considered marital property – regardless of who made the purchase or whose name is on the title. Those assets that either of you brought into the marriage with you and kept separate throughout the intervening years will remain your separate property. However, it is important to point out that your individual circumstances can blur the line between marital and separate property quite easily.
There are specific factors that tend to further complicate divorce financials, including:
- High assets
- Business ownership
- Otherwise-complicated financials, such as multiple property ownership
In these situations, you will also likely need the specialized guidance of a forensic accountant to help ensure that your financial rights are well protected.