If you’re thinking about divorce, what to do first is probably one of your main concerns. Should you move out? Take yourself off your spouse’s checking and savings accounts? Call an attorney?
Here’s what you need to know.
Divorce: What to Do First
Divorce is a major life change, and for most people, that means working with an experienced family law attorney who understands the process – and who can give case-specific legal advice. You should absolutely call a Stockton divorce lawyer to discuss your situation and get guidance. When you call an attorney, you’ll be able to ask questions about your own case and learn about the process; your attorney will also have some questions for you. Then, she’ll be able to put together a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.
After you’ve called an attorney, you’ll also need to:
- Gather financial documents
- Separate your finances
- Save money
- Talk to supportive friends and family, or a counselor
- Determine your goals for child custody
- Think about whether you’ll ask for spousal support (or whether you’ll have to pay it)
- Figure out your living situation
Here’s a closer look at each.
#1. Gather financial documents
Your attorney will need several financial documents, including tax returns and pay stubs (from you and your spouse) to help determine your division of assets. Gather your life insurance policies, home mortgage statements and retirement account statements, as well as any other financial paperwork you can find.
It may be a good time to open up a bank account and at least one line of credit that’s solely in your name. However, you should talk to your attorney before you make any major financial decisions – and don’t take money out of your joint account to finance your new account without asking your attorney about it first.
If you haven’t worked, now may be a good time to start looking for a job. (You should talk to your attorney about this, too.) If you’re already working, start saving your own cash rather than putting it into your joint account. You’ll still have to own up to having this money, but it’s a good idea to keep it separate from your spouse’s cash.
Related: Protecting your assets from divorce
We all need someone to talk to – especially during tough emotional times like divorce. Rely on your friends and family when you need someone to listen, or work with a trained divorce therapist who can help you deal with your emotions. There’s another benefit to working with a therapist, too; he may be able to teach you new coping strategies that help you get through the stresses you’ll face during your divorce.
When you divorce, one of the first things you’ll also want to do is determine what you want for your children. Remember, the courts always put the children’s best interest first – so that means you and your spouse should try to come to an agreement about child custody on your own (and it should be fair to everyone involved). If you and your spouse can’t agree to a fair plan that’s good for your kids, the judge in your case will decide for you.
Related: California child custody information
In some cases, the courts order one spouse to pay the other spousal support (commonly called alimony). These payments are designed to help the lower-earning spouse get back on his or her feet and become self-sufficient. However, even if you think you’ll have to pay spousal support, or if you’re sure you’ll receive it, you can’t count on that until you have a signed order from the judge.
Related: California alimony information
Once you decide to divorce your spouse, don’t automatically move out of the house. Doing so could cost you in the long run. Instead, talk to your attorney about what you want to do – whether you want to keep your marital home or you’d like to sell it, move into a smaller place or do something different. Don’t make any moves without talking to your lawyer first.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Divorce and What to Do First?
When you want a divorce, what to do first is a big question for most people. Call us at (209) 546-6870 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today. We’ll discuss your case, find out about your circumstances and start putting together a plan that gets you and your family the best possible outcome.