“I plan to tell my spouse that I want a divorce. Is there anything that I should do to prepare myself before I do so?”
There are several parts to this question that really depend on the nature of the personality of the person to whom you have been married. There may be several concerns involved.
If you are not the spouse who is knowledgeable about the financial information of the marriage, you may wish to gather that data before you break the news. Important documents such as monthly bank statements, annual 401(k) statements and income tax returns have a habit of disappearing once notice of a divorce is given. It may be wise for you to create your own set of documents so that you have complete information regarding the assets and liabilities of the parties as this will be critical information for your attorney.
A second facet of this question is whether or not your spouse has a volatile personality. If that is the case, you may want to consider arrangements for alternate living after you break the news. However, there are significant ramifications to moving out of the house and you should consult with an attorney to examine the pros and cons of moving prior to completion of the divorce.
Another concern is whether or not your spouse may be spendthrift. There may be things that you can do to freeze assets or freeze credit card accounts so that your spouse does not retaliate against you by running up large debts after getting notice of the divorce. Again, consultation with an attorney is important so that you understand the ramifications of whether or not you might be held liable for such debt and how that might affect you during the divorce process.
Robert C. Howard, partner of Jekel, Howard & Thomson, LLP, has practiced family law in Arizona for more than 35 years, with concentration on prenuptual agreements, divorce, paternity, and post-decree modification matters.