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What is the best way to "prepare" for a divorce?

Probably the most common question that clients ask me during an initial consultation is, "What should I do prepare to file this divorce?"

Every case is different, but as a general rule, I advise them that they need to gather as much information as they can about their financial affairs and their property. It is not uncommon in a marriage for one spouse to handle all of the bills, while the other spouse remains fairly uninformed of the status of bank balances, savings accounts, investments, retirement funds, mortgage balances, credit card balances, and so forth. Likewise, it is not uncommon for either spouse to be uniformed of the balance of the other spouse's retirement benefits or investments.

It is easier, and much less expensive, to get current information about the assets, accounts, and debts prior to filing the divorce. Once a divorce is filed and the parties are living separately, it is difficult to obtain current information because one spouse may not have access to the banks or other institutions to get current records if the accounts are held in the other spouse's name.

After the divorce is filed, it may be necessary to engage in the formal discovery process, which involves asking the other party to produce documents (such as bank records, account statements, and so forth), or answer formal questions, or appear for depositions, in order to get the information necessary to resolve the divorce and get it finalized. Formal discovery is a time consuming and expensive process, and in some cases it can be avoided if a party already has a good understanding and current information about these items.

Even in cases where discovery cannot be avoided, information about your assets and liabilities is valuable information for your attorney to have in preparing and responding to discovery. It will also aid your attorney in giving you accurate advice or in developing an efficient strategy for litigating your divorce case.

Of course, this brief article cannot and does not cover every consideration, and there are additional issues to evaluate when children are involved. But the general idea is to be informed and get as much current information as you can about your financial affairs as soon as it appears you may be headed for divorce.

If you are considering divorce, then please don't hesitate to consult with me about your case. As a lawyer with more than 18 years of experience, I am well-equipped to represent your best interests. Get in touch with my office by phone at (972) 382-7011 or submit an online form.