As a busy divorce attorney, I am often asked about the key to a successful divorce. When I mention to people one of the key factors is getting prepared for their divorce, I often get a strange look. Who does that? But we prepare for everything! How many of us wake up one day and go get a job? Go get a house? Go and have a child? We prepare before we make important decisions, and getting a divorce is no different. Now that you’ve decided to prepare for success, what steps should be taken next?

A Successful Divorce Starts with Hiring the Right Attorney

Are they going to communicate with you? How will they communicate with you — email, phone, through a paralegal, etc.? Although you may want to handle your divorce amicably, keep in mind, if the need should arise, you will want a lawyer who can put up a good fight for you. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a fight, and discover you have an attorney you cannot effectively handle that fight. You don’t want someone who only wants to fight either, but someone who can do what you need.

Get Your Financial Information In Order

This is a two-step process:

1. Determine what you own.

You should make a list of all possible assets you own. Gather all documentation regarding each asset including the present value, when and where the asset was purchased and whether it was purchased with joint or separate funds. You will especially want a copy of any recent real estate appraisals. Turn all documentation over to your attorney. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.

To Download our helpful Guide to Marital Property click here.

2. Determine what you owe.

Once you determine what debt exists you need to obtain statements on all open accounts with the balance due showing. When you turn this information over to your attorney, don’t forget to keep copies for your files.

Gather Income Documentation

Self-Employment and Documenting Income

You may be able to get an idea of how much your spouse actually makes but, it can be almost impossible to determine true income when a spouse is self-employed. Gather what information you can and then your attorney can help get the rest through the discovery process. You’ll need to prepare a budget, so you know exactly how much money you will need. This is important because the income you used to live on, is now going to be divided .

Estimate Expenses Post-Divorce

Establish Your Own Credit During Divorce

Avoid Going Into Debt

Protect Joint Accounts

Do not hide the fact that you have done this and do not spend the money foolishly. Document every penny you spend so that you can have an accounting for it during settlement negotiations or in court. If you have savings accounts, money market accounts or any type investment accounts and you fear your spouse will tamper with those you should consider having the accounts frozen. You should, of course, discuss with your attorney any action you plan to take regarding joint financial accounts.

Close Joint Credit Accounts Prior to Separation (if Possible)

Offer to close the accounts by paying a smaller amount than is owed. If this is done, get a letter from the creditor that the account has been paid in full and a written promise that they will not file anything derogatory about the account to the credit reporting agencies.

If you are not able to pay off or come to a settlement agreement regarding the balance owed you should have the accounts frozen. This will keep you from being able to use the account but will also protect you in the end. Once the divorce is final, the balance owed on the account can be transferred to the party the court holds responsible for the debt. If the responsible party does not pay the debt then you don’t have to worry about it affecting your credit score.

Advise Creditors of Pending Divorce

Make sure all credit card bills are being paid. Divorce proceedings can take months and all it takes is one late payment to hurt your credit. Even if you have to pay the minimum on accounts that you know will ultimately be your spouse’s responsibility it will be worth it.

Don’t Give Your Spouse Info to Use Against You in Court

If you follow these steps you will be on your way to preparing for a successful divorce. And, don’t go it alone! If you are in the Chicago area, Anderson & Boback family law attorney are here to help. Contact us today with your consultation request.

THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AT: https://illinoislawforyou.com/divorce/preparing-for-divorce/

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