If there is a chance that you may be getting divorced, there are certain steps that you should take in order to prepare yourself. While you can never predict exactly what path your life will take, you can do everything possible to protect yourself in the event that your marriage does take a turn for the worse.
First, you need to familiarize yourself with your marital finances and gather all of the documentation that you will need to provide to your divorce lawyer. You should make a copy of the relevant documents and keep them somewhere safe, such as with a trusted family member or in a safe deposit box. Necessary documents include tax returns, recent credit card statements, and recent statements of any other debts that you owe, including car loans, mortgage loans, and student loans. You also should gather recent statements from any bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts belonging to either you or your spouse. Divorces have the tendency to turn ugly very quickly, and it will be much easier to get the documents that you need now rather than in the midst of a divorce.
Next, take the necessary steps to establish your own credit. Open your own bank account and start building an emergency fund, if you can (if there are funds in joint accounts, we will discuss in a later chapter whether or not you should take your share or not). Apply for a credit card account solely in your name. Pull your credit report, if you haven’t done so recently, and check for any errors. All too often, one spouse fails to establish credit, and, as a result, has only joint accounts with his or her spouse or even no accounts in his or her name at all. Without credit solely in your name, you cannot rent an apartment, qualify for a mortgage, or buy a car on your own. Also, keep in mind, that you do not want your spouse to take out debts in your name if you anticipate a divorce. But discuss these issues in more detail with a good attorney who can help you plan.
If you feel that divorce is inevitable, you should also take steps to change any beneficiary designations and your will, both of which probably name your spouse as the one who will receive anything that you own, including the proceeds of life insurance policies and retirement accounts. If you no longer want your spouse to receive those sums in the event of your untimely death, then you need to complete the paperwork necessary to change the named beneficiaries and certain provisions in your will.
Start anticipating the changes in lifestyle will undoubtedly occur if you get divorced. Particularly if your spouse historically has been the main breadwinner in your family, you need to evaluate your current financial situation and begin building a realistic budget if you find yourself on your own. Get familiar with the costs of maintaining your current home, and consider whether remaining in the home after the divorce is even a possibility. Realize that you may need to get a job, work more hours or even change careers altogether in order to financially support yourself, and, perhaps, your children.
Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.