Whether you decided to file for divorce, your spouse did or you made the decision together, the next few months to a year are going to be confusing and trying times. From hiring a divorce attorney if you have not already done so to deciding who gets to keep the home, you have a lot to do between now and the finalization of your divorce. The question is, where do you begin?
Divorce comes with more logistics than most people care to think about until circumstances demand they figure them out. If you enter the divorce process ill-prepared, each new to-do will make the already stressful process even more so. Fortunately, the opposite is also true — by preparing for what is to come, you can protect your mental health, finances and future. Ramsey’s divorce checklist can help you get started.
Put together a team
Divorce can feel very lonely, but it is important that you do not attempt to go through the process on your own. You will need an expansive support team of individuals and professionals who can help you in various ways. For instance, a counselor or minister can serve as your emotional support. A financial planner can help you make good financial decisions throughout the divorce and advise you on ways to save for your future. A good lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities so that you can make the most informed decisions regarding your future.
Inventory your personal property
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means the judge will divvy up yours and your spouse’s joint property in a way he or she deems fair based on a number of factors. At some point, you and your spouse will need to present the judge with a list of assets you own jointly and separately, along with their values. You may as well start taking inventory of your possessions now, before things get moved around, misplaced or sold.
Gather your personal information
You will need four types of information to divorce:
- Your own personal information (full legal name, birthday, social security number, employment documentation, proof of residency)
- Your marital information and documentation
- Any information you already have pertaining to your divorce (restraining orders, police records, visitation orders, pre- or postnuptial agreements)
- Your children’s information
You will need information on any shared children, children of previous relationships and adopted children who are under 18 years of age. You may also need to present information on adult children with disabilities.
Get your finances in order
Finally, take a deep dive into yours and your spouse’s finances. Identify all funds, assets and debt you have. Go beyond your bank accounts and gather info on everything from insurance policies to inheritances. Take measures to protect your separate funds by removing your spouse’s name from the account, rerouting your paychecks and starting an emergency fund.