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Steps to Take Before You File for Divorce

Once you’ve made the decision to file for divorce, the first person you should inform is your attorney—not your spouse. Make an appointment with a family lawyer in Owings Mills and find out what you should and shouldn’t do in the time leading up to the filing of the petition. If you believe your spouse may react aggressively or violently to the news of the divorce, you can ask your attorney about getting a protective order. The protective order can require your spouse to move out of the family home. divorce - papers

Assess your finances and earning potential.

Switching from a two-income to a one-income household is quite a shock. A legal separation is even more difficult if you didn’t work during the marriage. You’ll need to carefully consider your financial situation. If you do work, consider whether you can realistically support yourself and any children with one income. If you don’t work, consider whether your education, experience, and job skills would allow you to secure a job that is capable of supporting your lifestyle.

Make copies of financial and household documents.

Your family lawyer will need all relevant financial and household documents. Make copies of these before informing your spouse that you want a divorce, especially if there’s a possibility that your spouse will try to hide assets. You may need copies of the following:

  • Tax returns
  • Bank statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Mortgage documents
  • Credit card statements
  • Wills
  • Investment and retirement account statements
  • Vehicle titles
  • Employee benefits statements
  • Social Security statements

Your spouse might be self-employed, which can complicate the divorce process further. Get as much information as you can about the finances of the business, such as by copying relevant documents stored in the family’s computer.

Write down the details of the household expenses.

Use your checkbook and your bank statements to identify all household expenses for the past year. The family court will ask for information about household expenses. Additionally, you can keep track of your average monthly cash expenditures by putting a small notebook in your car, and making a note in it every time you purchase something.

Make an inventory of major assets.

You’ll need to give your lawyer a list of all major assets. These typically include vehicles, jewelry, furniture, appliances, and electronics. You might have to get a professional valuation of certain assets , including rare coin collections or the contents of a wine cellar.