Divorces aren’t always the result of a gradual sense of disconnection shared by both people in the marriage. Many times, separations are very abrupt––triggered by dramatic events, or harmful revelations that finally come to light.
Regardless of your situation, it’s extremely important to resist letting your emotions get in the way of rational thinking throughout the divorce.
Divorce is a life-altering experience and just like any other transformative event in your life, it pays to take your time and ensure the result is favorable. When it comes to divorce, that means getting a full picture of where you stand financially, how such a decision will affect your health and well-being and then finding the proper help to protect you both before and after separation.
Let’s run through a checklist of six things you need to do before filing for divorce in Wisconsin.
1. Evaluate and manage your online presence
The content posted on social media profiles is increasingly finding its way into family law cases of all kinds, yet it’s still commonly overlooked by many couples entering into a divorce.
Assuming things you’ve said through social media channels will remain private or invisible to certain others based on privacy settings or other supposed means of confidentiality can be very dangerous.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all other social platforms are essentially your public face. Photos, videos, tweets, status updates and any other posts that show or suggest alcohol/drug use, infidelity, or any other activity or opinions relevant to a divorce could be used to hurt your case in a number of ways, especially when child custody is at stake.
2. Get a complete picture of where you stand financially
A clear idea of where you and your spouse stand financially is absolutely necessary before stepping into a divorce since one of the primary objectives during the separation process is making an equitable distribution of assets and debts.
To ensure you receive a fair share during your settlement negotiations, you need to know who owns what and who owes who more.
The marital home, financial accounts and vehicles are obvious assets that are commonly split equitably. There are many potentially important assets that might not be so obvious including pension plans, inheritances, and exclusive items like valuable artwork.
Determining what you owe is slightly different. Contrary to what you might assume, it doesn’t matter whose name is on any outstanding debts. Martial debt is divided based on financial ability rather than who originally incurred it. Start by getting a credit report and reviewing any outstanding debts listed there.
3. Make a decision to stay in your home or move elsewhere
If you’re wondering whether or not you should remain living in your home with your spouse or not during the divorce, there are a few key reasons it may be in your interest to stay put.
Before going into it any further, if any form of abuse is happening in the house, that issue that needs to be addressed immediately. In those circumstances, it’s very important to distance yourself from your spouse as much as possible and address the situation with the authorities.
If you’re currently paying a mortgage and decide to leave while your divorce is still pending, the judge may factor that into their decision regarding property distribution, especially if your spouse continues paying off the mortgage. If you must move, try your best to continue paying for the house and keep all records for proof.
Before moving out for any reason, be sure to discuss the decision with your Beloit divorce attorney first, as the decision may have a negative impact on your case.
4. Establish a new line of credit in your own name
If you’ve have joint credit up until now, it’s time to establish a new line in your own name now. The easiest way to do this is to simply apply for a credit card in your name.
If you find yourself dealing with fragile credit after leaving a joint account, be sure to be responsible with your new account and make sure you’re able to make complete payments at the end of each month. After all, the goal here is to improve your credit over time, not rack up debt you’ll have to deal with later.
5. Gather and compile your proof of income
Preparing proof of income for both you and your spouse is an absolute must before moving forward with a divorce. This includes pay stubs (if both of you are salaried employees) as well as your most recent income tax return.
If you or your spouse is self-employed, the process of determining income can be a little more complicated and difficult. Copies of bank account statements and financial business statements should be able to give sufficient information regarding income in these cases.
Figuring out the exact income amount of a self-employed spouse can be next to impossible on your own. Compile as much information as you can then reach out to your attorney during the discovery process to see if more records can be found.
If you’re in need of an experienced family law attorney in Beloit, Wisconsin, click here for a free consultation with The Fitzgerald Law Firm.
At The Fitzgerald Law Firm your initial consultation is always free and you will always meet directly with one of our attorneys. We understand that appointments during traditional working hours may not be convenient for all, and thus we strive to be available for evening, weekend, and off-site appointments. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Photo credit: Lindsay Holmwood