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Five steps to prepare for your divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Firm News

Whether you were the one to decide on divorce or your spouse was, it’s time to get organized. Proactive steps you take early in the process can be vital to protecting your financial and parental rights throughout the divorce process and after the judge issues the decree. Without proper preparation, you risk ending up with an inadequate financial settlement that does not help you live independently and a child custody arrangement that does not reflect your wishes or the best interests of your children.

Here are five steps you can take to help make your divorce settlement as reasonable and smooth as possible.

Sort out the separation details

Before they can get divorced, state law requires married couples in Lafayette to live separately for 180 or 365 days, depending on if they have minor children together. So a good place to start is by figuring out your living situation during and after the divorce process. This may mean establishing new living arrangements for you, your spouse, and your children. It’s crucial to create a realistic budget considering these changes, ensuring that neither household spends more than 25% of take-home pay on housing costs. This step will help prevent financial strain as you transition into separate households.

Make plans for the children

If you have children, their well-being and future arrangements should be a priority. Schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Lafayette to discuss physical and legal custody, visitation schedules, and child support. Since most divorce cases take several months, it’s also important to plan how holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions will be managed, ensuring that the children maintain healthy relationships with both parents and extended family.

Itemize your belongings

Divorce involves the division of shared and personal property. Begin by listing and photographing personal items that solely belong to you, such as jewelry, artwork, and family heirlooms. For items that might be contentious, consider storing them with a trusted friend or relative. Additionally, compile a list of jointly owned assets, which in Louisiana is called community property. This often includes highly valuable assets like the house, bank accounts and retirement savings. This can help your attorney determine what you are entitled to.

Compile your legal documents

Gather and organize all critical legal documents, including marriage licenses, tax returns, real estate documents, and business-related paperwork. Having these documents readily available and organized will streamline the legal process. If you encounter difficulties obtaining any documents, consult your attorney for assistance.

Organize your financial paperwork

Along with your legal papers, collect copies of all financial documents, including bank statements, investment accounts, and insurance policies. Both paper and digital copies should be easily accessible. Updating the beneficiaries of your insurance policies and will, and your designated powers of attorney is also crucial during this stage to reflect your new status and protect your interests.

Another crucial step

Engaging a competent divorce attorney early in the process is invaluable. A good attorney will help you stay organized, adhere to your planned steps, and work toward a settlement that protects your rights and interests.