It’s a situation that many people here in Michigan have been in before – they’re unhappy in their marriages and want to call it quits, but aren’t sure where to begin. Divorce can be an intimidating process, and if you don’t have any experience (which most people don’t), you probably have no idea how to get the ball rolling. But don’t worry – we understand how uncomfortable and scary it can seem in the very beginning, which is why we made this checklist to give you a starting point. You’re welcome.
Choose a divorce attorney and meet with them
Before you do ANYTHING else, you should sit down with a family law attorney and explain your situation. Every marriage is different, and every couple has unique issues that will need to be addressed during the divorce process. Having an attorney give you an overview of what to expect, and what you’re up against, will make everything seem far less intimidating. Most family law attorneys offer free 1 hour consultations, so make use of that time, and find out as much as you can about what lies ahead for you.
Make copies of all important documents
Whether you scan them on your home printer, photocopy them at your local library, or simply take good quality pictures with your phone, you need to record copies of all important documents. That includes bank statements, tax returns, vehicle titles, credit card bills, and any other financial statements and documentation you have access to. Once you’ve done that, either store the copies in a secure location out of your house, or save copies to the cloud via an account that only you have access to.
Inventory all of your belongings
Make a list of all of the items that you and your spouse currently own. Include on your list all of the furniture and electronics you have, along with any other property you own, and all of your vehicles (this includes more than just cars – motorcycles, boats, RVs and jet skis all need to be included.) You should also include any items of value, like art, collectables, jewelry, and designer clothing and accessories. Make note of any family heirlooms or sentimental items on the list as well.
Track all of your expenses, and your budget
Make a list of all the different bills you and your spouse pay every month. Include your mortgage, your regular monthly bills (like water, electricity and gas) and then luxury items, like internet, satellite TV, and Netflix. If there are any club memberships (like the gym, or vacation timeshare) be sure to include those as well. Also remember to get copies of yours an your spouse’s pay stubs for the last 5 months. This can be difficult if either or both of you has direct deposit, so discuss the issue with your attorney.
Get a copy of your social security statement
If you or your spouse is over the age of 50, and you’ve been married longer than 10 years, get a copy of your social security statement. Your attorney may need to see what your financial options look like in the future, once you begin getting Social Security. To get a copy of your annual statement, register online at ssa.gov.
Preparing for a divorce can feel very overwhelming!
Join us next time, for the rest of the list. Until then, if you have any questions about the divorce process, or need help preparing for your divorce, our highly skilled family lawyers have decades of experience helping people with every aspect of their divorces. If you or a loved one are considering divorce and have questions, or need help, please call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 today, and get the help you need.