If your marriage has devolved to the point that you are considering a divorce or are concerned that your spouse may serve you with divorce papers, it is worth investing the time and effort to plan ahead. Going through a divorce is a process – not an event – and you will need to be as prepared as possible for what’s to come.
How to Prepare for Your California Divorce
If you go into your divorce without adequate preparation, it will likely be much more challenging to secure and protect your rights. Getting what you deserve in terms of property, spousal support, child support, and child custody requires a thorough understanding of your personal and financial circumstances, and each one of these involves its own unique set of challenges. To make sure you receive your fair share, there are a number of steps you will generally want to consider taking sooner rather than later:
1. Assemble Your Team
In some cases, this will mean nothing more than choosing the attorney who you want representing you in your divorce. In others, it could mean talking to your accountant, finding an expert in child psychology or social work, hiring a forensic investigator, and engaging other experts who can help support your position in the various complex issues involved in your divorce.
2. Gather Your Important Records
This includes everything from birth certificates to tax returns. Hopefully your spouse will not try to keep these records from you; but, just in case, it is a good idea to make sure you have copies of everything you need in advance.
3. Make Sure You Can Access Your Accounts
Along with collecting your records, it is also important to make sure that you know how to access all of your accounts. Make sure you know where all of your money is hiding (including savings accounts, checking accounts, investment portfolios, and retirement plans like IRAs and 401(k)s), and make sure you know your usernames and passwords for logging in.
4. Make Sure You Have Access to Cash and Credit
This could probably go without saying, but: You will need money during your divorce. While California law limits what you can do in terms of shielding funds from your spouse, there are legal steps you can take to make sure you will have access to the money you need to support your lifestyle and pay your bills.
5. Make a List of Assets
Make a list of all of the assets that you and your spouse own either separately or together. At this point you don’t need to know who owns what – just make sure that if it’s yours (or if it might be yours), you write it down. If you have information about where a specific asset came from (for example, if you received a valuable baseball card collection as an inheritance), this will be important to know as well.
Does It Matter Which Spouse Files for Divorce?
A common question among spouses contemplating divorce is whether it matters who wins the race to the courthouse. As it turns out, the initial filing could ultimately have little impact on the final outcome of your divorce. For example, in San Diego County the choice of venue (which court will preside over your divorce) is determined based upon ZIP codes, so this eliminates one of the major incentives in other types of cases to be the first to file.
Nonetheless, if you are concerned that your spouse may be preparing to file , it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. There are several issues you will need to address to get ready for the road ahead, and an experienced divorce attorney will be able to help you make informed decisions about how to prepare for your divorce.
Contact Richard M. Renkin | San Diego Divorce Lawyer
Richard M. Renkin is a divorce lawyer and Certified Family Law Specialist with nearly 30 years of legal experience. If you have questions getting divorced in San Diego County, Richard can help. For advice about how to prepare for your divorce, call the Law Office of Renkin & Associates at 619-299-7100 or contact us online to schedule an initial case evaluation today.