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Planning Your Divorce

What You Need to Know

Going through a divorce is never easy. It is a major life-change for most people and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control. But planning for your new life, and getting good legal advice early in the process, can really help. Start with these steps and you can regain that control.

Define Your Goals

Try and picture what you want your life to look like after your divorce. This should include:

  • Your finances (alimony, support, career plans, assets, debt, and a proposed budget)
  • Your children (custody, visitation, education, etc.)
  • Where you want to live

As you consider these important issues, be as specific as possible. If this seems daunting, don’t worry. Our Atlanta divorce attorneys can help you answer some of the questions.

Gather Information and Documents

It is critically important that you and your lawyer have a clear picture of your finances. This includes income, assets (including retirement accounts), and liabilities or debt. It is also important to preserve information/evidence that may be relevant to your divorce further down the road.

The information above is not necessary for your first meeting with a lawyer, but will be needed soon after you begin your case. Click here for a helpful checklist you can download to assist in the process.

Steps to Take Now

Below are your divorce do’s and don’ts. Try to take these steps as soon as possible:

  • Open and maintain your own bank accounts, preferably at a bank other than where any joint accounts are held.
  • Open and maintain a credit card account that is only in your name. Stop using any joint credit cards or lines of credit.
  • Change your passwords on all financial, email, and social media accounts. If you think this might arouse suspicion, open new accounts.
  • Obtain a secure mailing address or PO Box.
  • Make a budget. This is critical for two reasons. First, it will help you get a handle on your finances. Second, your monthly income and expense figures are needed to complete documents the court will require early in the case.
  • Evaluate alternative health insurance coverage if you are currently covered only by your spouse.
  • If you are working, stay employed! If not, think about your future post-divorce and how you will re-enter the work-force.
  • Decide where you want to live while your divorce is pending. Most couples physically separate during the case. Think about your preference in the context of your larger goals.
  • Stay active in the lives of your children. Despite what you are going through, your involvement in their lives is very important.
  • Don’t incur new debt.
  • Create and keep a written record of events or actions you believe are relevant to your divorce. Be specific – noting dates and times if possible.
  • Schedule a first meeting with an experienced divorce lawyer in Atlanta.

Plan Discussions with Your Spouse

First, if you are the one initiating the divorce, recognize that while you have had a significant amount of time to organize and process this life-change, there is a substantial chance that it will be a complete surprise to your spouse. Consider the specifics of how you want the conversation to take place. Think about where and when. Then consider how you will broach the subject. Prepare yourself mentally for a variety of possible reactions, including anger. Be prepared to listen. Be prepared to suspend the conversation if emotions run too high. At all times, keep in mind your plan for moving forward and creating a better life.

Plan Discussions with Your Children

If you have children and have chosen to divorce, you have already concluded that, for any number of reasons, the decision meets your goals for them. But that does not make the discussion any easier. Just as you did before talking with your spouse, plan this meeting in advance. Be prepared for questions and maybe even confusion. Above all, you should strive to leave them with two thoughts firmly implanted in their minds: 1) they are not in any way the cause of the divorce, and 2) despite the decision of their mom and dad, they both still love you very much and that isn’t going to change.

These should be recurring themes throughout the process.

Get in touch with Berry Family Law Group at (404) 205-8942 to speak to an Atlanta divorce attorney about your case today.

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