Things to Know Before You Get a Divorce

About 41% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce, and that number soars to 73% for third marriages. When you’ve decided that a divorce is the best path forward, there are some things you need to know before you file. With the help of a New Jersey family law attorney, you’ll know how the process of divorce works and what to expect at each stage.

How to Choose an Attorney

There are lots of lawyers out there, and finding one who’s a good fit for you makes a considerable difference in your divorce case. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on terms and can avoid litigation, hiring an attorney to review the documents and submit them to the court ensures that every requirement of the law is satisfied. If things turn sour, you’ll need an attorney to stand up for you during the divorce case and protect your rights.

Get a Clear and Complete Understanding of Your Finances

To file for a divorce, you must set forth in detail your assets and liabilities. Now is a good time to list what you own. This might include a home, vehicles, stocks, a retirement fund, an IRA, bonds, CDs, a savings account, fine jewelry, and other assets and valuables. You also need a list of what you owe. This list might include personal and credit card obligations, medical debt, student loans, a mortgage, car payments, or back taxes.

Build Your Credit

Some people avoid credit cards, while others have only been a card holder on their spouse’s account. Now is the time to get a card in your own name. Choose a card with a low limit, and use it for purchases you would make anyway, such as fuel or a week’s worth of groceries. Pay off the card each month. This establishes a history of on-time payments. Avoid using the full amount of credit. Your credit score factors in the amount of available credit. Check your credit report and FICO score. You may obtain one free credit report from each bureau each year. Spreading out the three reports over the course of the year allows you to watch as your credit improves.

Separate Finances

Most married couples have some level of financial entanglement. Once a spouse learns of divorce plans, some decide to raid or drain the accounts. To reduce the risk of this happening, you’ll need to start untangling your funds and accounts from theirs. If you already have a credit card and authorized your soon-to-be ex-spouse as a cardholder on your account, remove their access. Close joint accounts or freeze them so no additional debt can accrue. Establish your own checking and savings accounts, preferably at a bank your spouse doesn’t use. Don’t allow your soon-to-be ex-spouse to have access to these accounts. Transfer your direct deposit and bill payments to these new accounts.

Determine Living Arrangements

If possible, avoid moving out of a shared residence if you want to keep the home after the divorce. The court may consider you leaving when it determines who gets the property. If your spouse earns more than you, negotiate how much of the mortgage they will pay. An attorney can file a temporary motion to give you possession of the home. Only leave the family home if your well-being or life are at risk.

When a divorce is in your near future, a consultation with a New Jersey family law attorney will help you understand how the process works and what to expect at each stage. To schedule an appointment with the Cherry Hill law office of Morgenstern & Rochester, call (856) 489-6200 today. You may also fill out our quick online contact form, and one of our office associates will contact you to schedule a consultation.