What are the best ways to prepare for divorce prior to telling your spouse that you want a divorce?
J. Eric Higgins’ Answer:
I talk to my clients about having an exit strategy when leaving the relationship. It’s one thing to decide that you’re going to get a divorce and end the relationship, but it’s another to have a plan for where you’re going to live, having a budget, looking at the housing issues if there are children, looking at what your expectations are in terms of possession schedules for the children, and where they’re going to go to school.
To help both yourself and your attorney, create a list of your goals for your divorce, including child custody, support, and property division. You don’t have to have every little detail worked out, but you should identify what’s most important to you so your attorney doesn’t waste time pursuing unimportant goals. Early on, we need clients to gather documents to help us start building their case. Clients can help by coming up with a budget to help us advise them, by identifying assets that are in the community estate that are subject to being divided, and putting documents together to prove any separate property that our clients might be alleging should not be subject to division.
These days, cases often start with quite a volume of email and texts back and forth between the parties. A party can start to gather and copy all of those documents – whether it be bank statements, broker statements, deeds on houses, or communication between the parties – so we can devise a plan of what would be best for our clients and what assets we want to try to get them in the divorce. We can then come up with a realistic budget so that they have the best opportunity to succeed at the end of the divorce process.