1. Never Threaten to Divorce Until You Are Ready to File
It will seriously injure your partner and he or she may start divorce planning, moving assets, and positioning him or herself with the children, which could hurt you. Take your time to plan things carefully and then file for divorce when you have your affairs in order.
2. Organize Your Documents
The more efficient you are in a divorce the more money you can save. If your attorney receives your documents and everything is a mess then it will take time and money to organize everything. Gather every important document that you can find and make copies of each. Look for your past tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, family trusts, Social Security statements, stock grants, automobile titles, etc. If your spouse is self-employed, it is essential to gather as much information as possible about the finances of his or her business. Make copies of any useful financial information stored on your home computer or lying around the house.
3. Focus on Your Children
Focus on your children and how best to reduce the impact of the divorce on their lives. If you are balanced and together, your children will be as well. Plan how you expect to divide the parenting time with the other parent. Do not involve the children in the battle or ask them to take sides. It is not fair and will create emotional problems for them.
4. Make Sure You Have Three Months of Financial Resources
Make sure that you have sufficient funds saved to pay for your expenses for at least three months if you are the spouse with limited access to financial resources. Many spouses become spiteful when the divorce starts and may cut you off financially. Although your attorneys can get you financial support, it will take time to do so.
5. Obtain the Best Legal Advice You can Get
This is not the time to cut corners or to trust everything your spouse tells you. Research whether your attorney has the skills and reputation to assist you in the divorce. It is critical to have the best representation during this very tough time in your life. Check their ratings on websites such as Superlawyers.com, AVVO.com, 5280 magazine or Best Lawyers in America. You should be immediately suspicious if your spouse advises you not to seek legal counsel.
6. Make Sure You Have Available Credit
Apply for your own credit card because your spouse may cut access to your credit card when you file for divorce. Having available credit will allow you to pay for things while your attorneys work to get court orders concerning temporary financial support.
7. Have a Safety Plan if There is any History or Risk of Domestic Violence
Understand that violence can escalate when you leave your spouse. However, don’t be encouraged to file a protection order unless it is really necessary. Cases that start out with the filing of a protection order excluding your spouse from the home and children often turn out to be some of the most highly contested cases. Using this as a weapon can sometimes cost you in the long run. Every decision in a divorce will have long-lasting ramifications on your life so you must be sure to obtain the best representation and advice possible.
8. Possession is 9/10th’s of the law
Possession can be nine-tenths of the law as to the custody of children. Unless there is a good reason to separate quickly, it is much smarter to remain with possession of the children until you work out a temporary parenting plan. Make sure that you know the children’s teachers, counselors, doctors and other professionals. The last thing you want is to have the school teacher tell an evaluator that they do not know what you look like and have never met you.
9. Surround Yourself with Supportive Family and Friends
You will need all the help and support you can get.
10. Try to Remain Civil and Treat Your Spouse With Respect
You may have to attend weddings, graduations, and funerals with them in the future. Avoid making statements in anger. Never send emails when you are angry or upset. These will come back to haunt you in the divorce. Remember that this will be a tough experience, but you will get through it and will become empowered in the process. Our attorneys can help.
Suzanne Griffiths is the Managing Shareholder, President, and co-founder of Griffiths Law PC. She was recognized by the Best Lawyers in America© in 2023 for family law and was selected to Colorado Superlawyers from 2005-2023. She was also recognized in 5280 magazines for Top Lawyer in Family Law in Denver from 2016-2023.
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