Divorce is one of the most tumultuous, stressful experiences you can go through. It can affect you financially, emotionally, and physically. During the divorce process, emotions can range from devastation to relief.
When your marriage ends, there's no wrong way to feel. However, you must remain focused during the entire process. Particularly during the beginning of the divorce process, if you allow your emotions to cloud your viewpoint, you may miss out on crucial items that ensure future financial stability.
To have control of the situation early on, be prepared for everything that comes your way. Whether you plan to meet with a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) or a divorce attorney, have your critical divorce papers ready. A good CDFA will advise you to get all the divorce paperwork together before you file for divorce.
How do you know what documents you should prepare? To make sure you're collecting everything you might need, the simple divorce checklist below can give you a head start. And to make sure you have all of the most critical documents ready, the divorce checklist is broken into small, manageable pieces.
Before Filing For Divorce
- Consider going to marriage counseling. If there's any chance for you and your spouse to reconcile, it's essential to see a marriage counselor first before you file for a divorce.
- Hire a family law attorney. Divorces can get complicated quickly. If there's significant marital property or children involved, you need to get a family law lawyer to guide you through the legal process. In Illinois, the legal separation and divorce process are complex. Thus, it's essential to speak to a divorce lawyer before you make any decisions because even the simplest things can make a tremendous difference in the divorce process. The best way to know your rights under Illinois law is to contact an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process.
- Decide whether you'll fight to stay in the marital home or make other arrangements for where you'll reside during the divorce process.
- Get copies of any post-marital or pre-marital property division agreements.
- Determine if you should amend your will before filing for divorce.
- Open a new checking and saving bank account in your name. Once you file, change your direct deposits to this account.
- Open a credit card in your name and use it only for emergencies.
- Gather information on health insurance. Until your divorce is completed, remain on your spouse’s health insurance policy, especially if your spouse’s employer offers insurance. However, it's essential to look at your health insurance options post-divorce before you.
Protect Your Privacy
- Get a post office box. During the legal separation and divorce process, it's essential to have a private address to receive mail that you don't want your spouse to see, including correspondence from your family law attorney. Alternatively, you can identify a family member or friend whose address you're comfortable using.
- Change all your passwords. Change passwords for every account you own individually, including e-mail accounts, online financial accounts, and social media accounts. But, don't change passwords on any joint accounts. Use unique passwords that aren't related to anything in your life so that your ex-spouse won't be able to guess them.
- Make all your social media accounts private. This doesn't mean you delete information. It simply means you need to make your online accounts private so that the only people who can see what you post on your account are those you allow.
- Compile a list of you and your spouse's monthly bills. The list needs to include the amount you pay, who you pay, and the services you receive.
- Draft a personal balance sheet showing what you and your spouse own individually and as a couple.
- Prepare a financial information sheet showing you and your spouse's expenses and monthly incomes.
- Prepare a financial information sheet showing your individual monthly expenses and income once you file for divorce.
- List all your financial accounts, including brokerage accounts, savings accounts, and bank accounts. Get current bank statements and balances for the last 12 months.
- List all credit cards in your or your spouse’s name.
- Compile a list of retirement accounts, including 401k's, IRA’s, 403(b)’s, or any pensions. Get current statements and balances for the last 12 months.
Update Information About Your Children
- Update your contact information at your kid's school, especially if your address changes after filing for divorce.
- Get an updated copy of your children’s class schedule.
- Compile a list of your children’s extracurricular activities, including the activity times, dates, and days of the week.
- Get statements for any child care expenses, including daycare or after-school expenses.
Get Copies of Financial Documents
- Get copies of your recent payslips.
- Get a copy of your credit report.
- Obtain copies of your spouse’s recent payslips.
- Get copies of your and your spouse's tax returns for the last 3 years.
- Get copies of account statements for credit card accounts, bank accounts, and any other financial accounts. Go back at least one year and further if you have any concerns regarding where money was spent.
- Get copies of statements and balances for retirement accounts or other benefits. Make sure you get statements all the way back to the start of the marriage or the account, whichever is earlier. Also, make sure you get copies of the plan documents.
- Get copies of business documents, especially if you or your former spouse own a business together. This includes company agreements, certificates of formation, partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, cash flow statements, profit-and-loss statements, purchase agreements, balance sheets, and any other documents reflecting the financial or organizational condition of the business.
- Get copies of any trust agreements where you or your spouse are trustees, settlors, or beneficiaries.
- Get copies of real estate paperwork. This includes deeds of trusts, mortgage documents, deeds, and any other conveyance documents.
- Get copies of car loan paperwork and car titles.
- Get copies of any promissory notes where you and your spouse are owed or owe money.
- Get your financial planner's contact information.
- Get the contact information for your certified public accountant (CPA).
- Gather copies of any other documentation showing any debts you or your spouse have.
- Gather copies of documentation regarding any unusual or large expenses incurred during the marriage, including a refinance or a home remodel.
- Compile a list of all your personal property, including art, jewelry, or furniture, with the approximate value of each item.
- Take photos of items with significant value.
- Take photos of each room in your marital house and what it houses.
Contact Our Experienced Chicago Divorce Lawyer Today for Legal Advice!
There is never a bad time to contact a family law attorney for information concerning a divorce. Even if you aren't ready to take the step of filing, it's always good to be prepared. Also, it's always good to know your rights and the right steps before making such a decision.
Whether you have a contested divorce, amicable divorce, complex property matters, or child custody issues, the experienced family law lawyers at Tommalieh Law are here to help you. Divorce and child custody cases are some of the most stressful events you can go through. Our Orland Park family attorneys understand this and will do their best to get you through the divorce process as quickly as possible while protecting your individual goals and best interests.