Planning a Divorce FAQs
Q: What documents should I gather for my divorce?
If you are planning for a divorce – whether you intend to file or you expect your spouse to file shortly – it is smart to collect as many documents as you can before the proceedings get underway. If you wait, you may be forced to go through the formal discovery process in order to obtain the records you need to support your position. By gathering these documents now, you can avoid this laborious and often-contentious process. You will want to be sure to obtain copies of:
- Bank and credit card statements
- Check registers
- Employee benefits materials
- Financial statements for self-employment income and family-owned businesses
- Investment and retirement account statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage documents
- Tax returns
- Vehicle titles
- Wills and other estate planning documents
Q: What other information should I collect to prepare for my divorce?
Along with collecting your records, you should also create an inventory of your primary assets. You don’t need to be exhaustive; but, when in doubt, err on the side of inclusion. You will want to capture marital assets as well as separate property. At a minimum, be sure to cover the big-ticket items: cars, jewelry, artwork, furniture, appliances, and collectibles. If you live in the San Diego area, don’t forget about your boat and season tickets.
You should also take note of your household expenses over the past year. This information will be important for two reasons. First, if you or your spouse seeks temporary support, knowing your expenses will be necessary for determining the amount of support to be paid. Second, if you will seek sole possession of the family home, you will need to be sure you can afford to maintain it on your own.
Q: What can I do to manage our debt before and after the divorce?
In most cases, it is advisable to pay down your debts as much as possible before going through a divorce. Allocating shared debts is often one of the most contentious issues between divorcing spouses. Consider canceling credit cards that get you or your spouse into trouble, and try to work out a plan so that you can minimize what you will owe once you are relying on a single salary. Our San Diego divorce lawyers can help you explore your options.
It is also important to determine if any debts were incurred entirely by one spouse – whether prior to or during the marriage. If so, these debts will remain with the spouse who incurred them and be excluded from the divorce allocation.
Q: How can I determine what my spouse earns?
It is not unusual for one spouse not to know exactly how much the other earns. While determining your spouse’s income can be fairly simple if he or she is a W-2 employee who brings home a regular paycheck, it can be a different story if your spouse works for tips or is self-employed.
If you cannot discern your spouse’s income from tax returns, try to keep track of the money flowing in and out of your home over a several-month period. Monitor your bank accounts and credit card statements to see how much money is coming in and going out. Your spouse may also keep records in a spreadsheet or accounting program that you can access through a family computer.
Q: How much will my own finances factor into my divorce?
Understanding your own financial situation is critical to planning for your divorce. Even if you anticipate receiving spousal support, this support will not be permanent (except in rare, mutually-agreed circumstances), so you need to plan to start taking care of your own finances. Child support issues need to be factored in as well.
To start planning for your divorce, our lawyers recommend assessing your current income and expenses, and considering whether you may need to reenergize or refocus your career. Also take stock of your credit situation, and start building a nest egg to cover legal fees, relocation expenses, and the other costs you will incur during the transition from spouse to divorcee.
Q: What can I do to protect my kids during the divorce?
This question is top of mind for most parents who are considering a divorce. Your children are innocent in all of this; yet, they are likely the ones who will suffer the most. When going through a divorce, the best thing you can do is to stick to your kids’ normal routines as much as possible. Stay involved in their activities, but avoid situations where you and your spouse are arguing in front of them. Most of all, do not badmouth your spouse in front of your children, and never try to get them to take sides. Your children deserve to be kept out of the middle, and they will need both of you in their lives during and after the divorce.
Q: When should I speak with a divorce attorney?
If you are considering filing for divorce, or if you think your spouse is planning to leave you, we recommend speaking with divorce lawyer as soon as possible. As discussed above, there are numerous important steps you will want to take before the papers get filed. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to help you identify all of the issues and develop a strategy to address them. The sooner you get started, the better positioned you will be to obtain the outcome you desire from your divorce.
Speak with a San Diego Divorce Lawyer Today
Attorney Richard M. Renkin is a Certified Family Law Specialist who has decades of experience representing clients in California divorces. To schedule a consultation at our offices in downtown San Diego, call (619) 299-7100 or contact us online today.