Advance planning for your divorce in Michigan can save you many thousands of dollars. Nobody likes to plan strategy for their divorce, but doing so can save you money, time and emotional distress once your divorce case is filed. Here is our list of ten important things to do if you are thinking about a divorce in the future.
Meet with an experienced divorce lawyer –
Many of us that have handled hundreds of divorce cases in and around Lansing. We know our courts, they particularities of the judges, the Friend of the Court offices and the local service providers. We can recommend appropriate financial planners, investment advisors, accountants, counselors and investigators. We are the starting point for your divorce strategy planning.
Photocopy all of the important documents. Here is a partial list: deeds, mortgage statements, loan statements, credit card bills, retirement account statements, income tax returns for at least 3 years, bank statements, vehicle titles, etc. In short, any financial information that you or your spouse has should be copied by you. Once the copying is done, store the copies in a secure location out of your home. A backup copy on line can also be helpful.
Inventory the contents of your home(s) –
Make a list of the furniture and electronic devices. Include a list of valuable jewelry. Take videos and photos of everything. Save a copy at your secure location out of the house with a backup copy on line.
Write down expense and budget information –
Copy down the last 5 pay stubs for you and your spouse. Also make a copy of the checks or online bills that you pay. Understand your family expenses as well as your budget.
If you or your spouse is over age 50, get your Social Security statement –
It might be important to understand how much you and your spouse will get once you begin getting Social Security. To get your statement, register for an account on line at ssa.gov and obtain your annual statement.
If you or your spouse is self employed –
Write down the names of the business and personal accountant, financial planner and attorney. Make copies of business income tax returns for the past 5 years. Note the names of all of the partners in the business.
Determine how to maximize your earning potential –
If you will be re-entering the workforce, you should figure out how much you can earn. Check the job market. Look into vocational testing. Think about whether you need more education or training. Begin to formulate a plan to deal with your future financial picture.
Get a copy of your credit report –
You can do that on line at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you have no individual credit in your name alone, begin to establish separate credit. If your credit is bad, speak with us about things you can do to start over.
Put aside some money for yourself –
There is nothing wrong with having a separate savings account. Everyone should have at least 3 to six months worth of emergency money set aside. This is not hiding assets. It is strategic planning for unexpected expenses including a divorce.
Protect your children. –
Put them ahead of yourself, your anger, your hurt and your emotions. You will be doing right by the kids and the court always wants you to take the high road. Judges in Ingham County, Eaton County, Clinton County, Jackson and Gratiot counties all care deeply about kids. Talk with our attorneys about custody, visitation and Michigan child support options.