Separation and Divorce Guidebook
Preparing for your Separation or Divorce
You should separate your emotions from the practical issues you must face. Get a clear picture of your future needs. Get organized and focus on the important issues, not just your marriage problem.
Buy a notebook. Write down all of your questions and concerns about your marriage problem before you meet with your lawyer about getting a separation and divorce. Then give your lawyer a clear understanding of your needs and goals so that an effective strategy can be planned and your lawyer can concentrate on what's important to you.
In descending order of importance, list the goals you would like to achieve. And those you think your spouse would like to achieve.
Write a brief, frank history of your marriage with dates, employment histories, illnesses and disabilities, and other relevant information. You should also document the contributions and sacrifices both you and your spouse have made during the marriage. Try to be fair in your appraisals, not one sided, although you may feel that way. Your lawyer needs a balanced approach in order to arrive at an objective appraisal of your case so you can be advised properly.
Begin preparing your budget. Review your checking records for the past two years. Then categorize and list the deposits and monthly expenses. Note expenses which may be paid semiannually or annually...like property taxes and insurance.
List all benefits provided as a result of employment yours and your spouse's such as pensions, automobiles, health and life insurance plans, etc.
List all assets you know of. Note when each asset was acquired, its approximate cost, and its estimated current value. Use insurance policies covering your home and cars, newspaper ads, stock prices, etc. to get some ideas about values. Then itemize your debts.
Just as you should inventory your home and videotape your belongings for insurance purposes, photocopy every financial record and photograph every piece of property. Then keep the photocopies and photographs in a safe place like a bank safety deposit box -- until you can get them to your lawyer.
Now it's time to find a lawyer to help you sort through what you have gathered.