What Should You Do Before You Start the Divorce Process?

When a couple chooses to end their marriage, it is not as simple as walking away. Divorce involves a variety of issues that must be addressed, and you should be prepared for them even before you file. New Jersey, like all other states, has its own rules and procedures regarding divorce that you should become familiar with and prepared for before taking the official first step.

Learn About the Divorce Process

Going blind into any situation can complicate things. If you are serious about going through with your divorce, you should speak to a New Jersey family law attorney who can explain the process to you. You can ask questions about how long the divorce might take, the different options available to you, and the relevant laws and procedures. The more informed you are about the process, the more confident you will feel about making decisions, particularly as the decisions you make before and during the divorce will have an impact on your life long after your marriage has been dissolved.

Figure Out Your Assets and Liabilities

Finances will play a big role during divorce negotiations, so you need to be clear about your money situation from the beginning. If you have been involved in all your family’s financial decisions, this might be an easy job for you. However, if you were not as involved, determining your marital assets and debts might be challenging and require some research. This will also help you figure out your cost of living as you plan for life post-divorce. Some of the things you need to identify during this process include:

  • Real estate, including the family home and any vacation or investment properties
  • Businesses owned by either of the spouses
  • Vehicles and other valuables items, such as jewelry, furniture and artwork
  • Savings and investment accounts
  • Life insurance and retirement accounts
  • Mortgages and loan balances
  • Credit card balances

Gather Documentation to Support Your Case

You will also need to gather documentation regarding your finances which will be vital for the process. You can use this information to work with your New Jersey family law attorney to create a plan for your divorce negotiations and to provide the documentation to the judge before the division of property is finalized and the divorce settlement is issued. Some of the items gathered should include:

  • Bank and credit account numbers and access information such as passwords
  • Bank and credit card statements, including savings and investment accounts
  • Life insurance and retirement policies and the beneficiaries on these policies
  • Mortgage and loan statements
  • Titles and deeds to property and vehicles
  • Tax returns for the previous 3 years and paystubs from both spouses
  • List of monthly expenses

What About the Children?

If you and your spouse have children, you will also need to create a temporary plan for them during the process. There are specific rules about child custody that you will need to follow. You and your spouse should create a parenting plan that works for the whole family during the process until the official custody order is issued. You will also need to address child support during this time. Divorce affects children in many ways and your focus should be to protect their best interests from the beginning, including their physical and emotional stability and well-being.

Choose the Divorce Process Right for You

Just like every marriage is different, every divorce will also be different. Before you begin the process, you should decide on which path is best for you. In some cases, the divorce might be amicable, and the spouses might choose to go with a process that allows them to be more in control, such as one with an alternative dispute resolution model such as mediation, arbitration or collaborative divorce. In other cases, the spouses might not be able to resolve their issues easily and they have to proceed to court. Your choice will depend on your understanding of each path to divorce as well as on the relationship between you and your spouse, among other things.

At Morgenstern and Rochester, we are always focused on defending our clients’ rights and supporting you through your process. Use our contact form or call us at 856-489-6200 to set up a consultation in our Cherry Hill office. Take the first step towards being in control of your future.