By: Alisse Camazine
Many clients have called me scared and confused about how to navigate a divorce during these difficult times. Many want to file for divorce. Many are scared to file until this is over. Regardless of when you want to file, there are things you can do to get yourself in the best position to file when you are ready.
First, try to gather as much financial information as you can. You will need this to prepare financial statements that are required to be filed with your Petition for Dissolution. Try to gather credit card bills for a couple of years. Obtain copies of all bills for the house, including mortgage payments and utility bills, or call the utility companies and get a 12 month average for each utility. Go through bank and credit card statements to determine expenses for you and the children, including clothing for them, extracurricular activities, and co-pays for doctors or prescriptions. Try to get 12 months of records for bank accounts, retirements accounts, and investment accounts. Get together tax returns for 3-5 years. Gather copies of paystubs. This will give us a clearer picture of your financial life.
If there are children, write a history, including who has cared for the children, whether one spouse has to travel for work, and whether there are issues you disagree about concerning their upbringing, including education, behavioral, religion, or medical care. Detail any special needs or medical problems with the children.
Prepare an account of your relationship with your spouse, including whether there is a history of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, and what evidence exists to support those claims. Detail your concerns over any mental health or addiction issues for both you and your spouse. If any of these issues is so severe that staying together in one house may exacerbate them, an Order of Protection for you or your children may be warranted. You should also address any claims you think your spouse may make against you, as we want to be prepared to defend against them.