Successfully navigating separation and divorce is ultimately about paperwork and money. Organizing your paperwork and your financial affairs will ensure that you and your legal team have the best opportunity to protect your financial future. Here are some steps to help you prepare for the divorce process:
- Filing system. Begin by ensuring that you have a functioning filing system. You may normally use a digital system, but hard copies of your financial information will make it easier for you throughout this process. As you locate the paperwork that your lawyer has requested, make two copies of everything: one for your filing system and one for your legal team.
- Separation and divorce calendar. You’ll have to manage your current life and work obligations as well as additional responsibilities – such as co-ordinating legal/financial appointments, new childcare arrangements, and deadlines for legal documents. Making notes of significant conversations with your spouse on the date they occur will also make it easier to document issues for your legal team.
- Financial data. Knowing what you own and what you owe, and what your regular expenses are, will be the basic information that your legal team needs. Shoe boxes of papers dropped on your lawyer’s desk is not an efficient system – but it is a costly one! Providing your lawyer with organized summary sheets of all this data will mean significant savings on your legal fees.
- Communicating effectively and efficiently with your legal team. Create an agenda before meetings to help you remember what you want to discuss, and make notes about what you need to follow up on. Remembering deadlines, and dealing with outstanding issues saves you money!
- Create a contact list. Separation and divorce impact every aspect of your life: including changing all passwords, locating and reviewing all assets and debts, and advising individuals and companies of your changed marital status. Consolidating all this information into one contact summary list will make your life easier – both throughout this process, and as you move forward to the next stage of your life.
A divorce organizer can help you accomplish all of this, setting up systems to get organized and stay organized, ultimately saving time for you and your legal team. Remember: in divorce, saving time means saving money.
Debbie Shawn founded Divorce Matters in Toronto, Ontario, to help divorcing people organize their legal and financial information in a clear manner in order to develop a successful divorce settlement. divorcematters.ca