After we meet with clients who are ready to pursue a divorce we are almost always asked, “what do I do now?” In response, we usually have our clients take these 4 steps
- Begin Collecting Financial Records- One of the most important—and often most contentious—areas in a divorce is trying to collect financial information from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Financial information is a central component in calculating spousal maintenance and child support, which means spouses have an incentive to conceal this information for as long as they can. Unfortunately, the more money a spouse makes the more incentive they have to try to avoid disclosing that information. Because of this, we often recommend our clients collect as much information as they can prior to filing for a divorce, including:
- Pay stubs- Having copies of your spouse’s current paystubs ensures you have an accurate picture of your spouse’s income, which is used to calculate both spousal maintenance and child support.
- Tax returns- Just like pay stubs, having tax returns provides you with an accurate picture of the family finances and can significantly affect spousal maintenance and child support. If your spouse is self-employed, having personal and business tax returns is especially important.
- Bank Records- Collecting bank records, especially records for investment or retirement accounts, can give you an accurate picture of the value of assets that may be divided in the divorce. Having an accurate picture provides you with more information and a better idea of how to fairly divide assets.
- Real Property Records- Whether it is your primary residence, a portfolio of rental properties, or a vacation home, if you have records regarding real property such as tax records, receipts for major renovations, or appraisals it is a good idea to collect that information when you can.
- Prepare your Digital Accounts and Devices- The simple fact of the matter is, smartphones, social media, and on-line account access are a normal part of everyday life. It is also not unusual for spouses to know each other’s passwords for various accounts or to share access to each other’s devices. Because of this, we usually recommend our clients:
- Change account passwords- Email accounts, social media accounts, and online accounts are all potential targets for a spouse that wants to collect information. It could also just be that your spouse wants to extract some revenge by making embarrassing social media posts. Whatever the reason, changing account passwords is a simple and effective way to protect yourself.
- Disable sharing of mobile devices- If your mobile devices, such as a phone or tablet, are shared with your spouse this should be disabled.
- Begin saving- A Divorce can be expensive. Whether that means you are spending money on attorneys’ fees for two people or just dealing with the added cost of maintaining two households, starting a divorce usually translates into a significant increase in expenses. Because of this, it is a wise idea to begin saving money so you have funds to draw on in the future.
- Prepare the Children- A divorce will be a big change for a little person. Preparing your children for a divorce involves taking time to discuss changes in the family, such as explaining why mom and dad are no longer living together, and helping children transition into new routines, such as weekly custody exchanges or attending a new school. It is also important to spend time making happy and enjoyable memories with your children. These happy memories can be a much-needed ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day.
If you are contemplating a divorce give O’Brian & Associates a call. We have been proudly representing families in King and Snohomish County since 1986 and we can stand with you in your corner as you work through the difficult process of divorce.