In addition to legal proceedings, a myriad of issues will arise during the divorce process.
You should begin to think about all of these issues early on to achieve the best outcome; here is a checklist to get you started.
These Issues Need Your Attention During the Divorce Process
1. Adopting a New Estate Plan Along with Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney
It is important that you update your estate plan or create one for the first time. You should put financial and medical powers of attorney in place. These are documents that give individuals the ability to make financial or healthcare decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your (ex)spouse, these are documents you probably want to update.
2. Finding a New Home and Qualifying for a Mortgage
When marriages end, often the marital home is sold and the proceeds divided as part of the financial settlement. Think about where you want to live, what you can afford and qualify to rent or obtain a mortgage. If you remain in your home, can you afford it on your own? Some additional financial planning may be needed. You may also have geographic restrictions related to living in a particular county or school district to consider.
3. Going Back to Work
If you are not working, you need to think about going back to work depending on your financial resources. Judges often expect to see you go back to work, and the sooner you are able to the better you appear.
4. Getting New Financial Advisors and Accounts
Your financial circumstances will likely change and you will need to adjust. There are financial advisors who specialize in helping people post-divorce. They can guide you through issues you may face and help you plan for a healthy and independent financial future. Do not attempt to move money around without consulting a lawyer and certainly do not attempt to hide assets.
5. Mental Health Options for You And/Or Your Children
You may want to consider what support you (and your children) may need, including professional support. This is a really difficult time in your life. Be sure you are practicing self-care! You may be interested in private counseling or finding support group help. Some employers offer Employee Assistance Programs which provide mental health support at no or reduced cost. For information about who in your network you can lean on, see my blog Who You Can Lean on During Divorce.
6. Consider How and When You Want to Put Your Business Partners or Employer on Notice
You may want to notify your HR department or business partners of your divorce. There may be things they need to do related to child support withholding, retirement plans, life insurance beneficiaries, and medical care. You may miss work to prepare your case, particularly if there are depositions or trial, so understand your time-off policy.
7. Tracking Expenses
During the divorce process, tracking expenses you incur for which your (ex)spouse/co-parent should reimburse you is critical. These could relate to medical expenses, childcare, tuition, extracurricular activities, etc. And, you may be entitled to reimbursement before the divorce is final, so start tracking your expenses immediately. FamilyDocket can help you do this by allowing you to upload receipts, including by taking a picture with your smartphone.
The expense is then sent to your (ex)spouse/co-parent and FamilyDocket retains a copy for your records. Additionally, your lawyer can access these expenses and use them in court to request payment if needed. This is a much better process than sending a note in little Johnny’s backpack that will get lost or forgotten.
If one spouse has stayed home to care for children, that may not be financially viable post-divorce. This means both parents need to consider options for childcare. If you already have caregivers assisting you, consider how you will communicate and work with them.
9. Co-Parent Calendaring
We are all busy and often rely on calendars to keep track of our schedule as well as that of our children. Further, you may now have a custody schedule to maintain. Software programs like FamilyDocket can assist you in keeping track and downloading appointments directly onto the calendar of your choice. You only have to input activities one time and can still share them with your co-parent while maintaining access in the calendar you utilize every day.