Documentation – If Divorce is in Your Future
It’s a tough time if your marriage is going down the path to Divorce. If there are children involved that adds another layer of emotion and stress, no matter what their age. Whether it’s you, your spouse, or you both want out, there are choices and it begins with choosing to prepare and educate yourself on the requirements in your state.
I have seen marriages that were deemed hopeless; turn around after individuals begin exploring the divorce options. One thing is for certain, finances will change and in most every case, it’s less expensive to live in one home than separately in two. Understanding and exploring your options is helpful.
Before going any further, it’s important for everyone reading this post to know, safety is a priority and if you or any family members are at risk, you need to get help. Staying in an abusive relationship is not safe and you MUST remove yourself form an unsafe situation. You can call 911 or walk into any Police Station and they will connect you to resources; another option is calling the national Domestic Abuse 800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org. Note: search history and web sites visited could be seen by someone using your device.
So how do you prepare? Documentation is key, you will need a complete accounting of your household; Family income, household expenses(rent, mortgage, utilities insurance), child-related, college, medical, tax returns, pay stubs from you and your spouse and if you own your home-maintenance expenses, cars, any investments, savings and any other financial related holdings. Any and all expenses should be documented; the Divorce Response Team Certified Coaches are skilled professionals able to thrush out these expenses with you and provide you with check lists to gather and collect the necessary information.
What do you do with all this information? Keep it in a secure location. I recommend scanning all paperwork and post to a secure and private location. Do not rely on a shared folder that your spouse or anyone else has access to, also use a brand new password that you spouse does not know that you use. Online storage platforms such as iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox offer free options that will keep your documents secure and accessible, even if your device is not functioning.
What else should you document? Has your spouse’s patterns changed, are they leaving early or coming home late, irritable, withdrawn, argumentative or anything else out of the ordinary. When and if the time comes; Courts do appreciate documentation, especially if it exposes a specific pattern, they don’t want a detailed book, and of course your attorney can best direct you on how they will utilize the information.
How about the kids? If there is tension in the home, kids can see and feel it; they express stress in many ways. Young children may cry at “little things”, become physical, resist their routine and/or start bed-wetting, Also, keep a close watch on what’s happening in school; reach out to teachers/guidance counselor. You don’t have to provide the details, it’s OK to just check in and let them know you’ve noticed things at home. If there is pending divorce, I have found that making teachers aware is very helpful.
If you’ve been together for a while and have accumulated “stuff”, take a room by room inventory, this is pretty simple and easy to do. While you are doing this, mark the items that you brought into the marriage, they brought and what was purchased together. It doesn’t hurt to mark the items that you can’t live without, this can save you time later, there are stories recorded of people coming home after a long day of work and everything but there clothes are gone! But don’t get any ideas, this is a no-no and you’ll surely pay for this later.
This sounds like a lot, but, in comparison to the documentation involved in an average Divorce case it’s really not. Documentation and the time energy that you will expend is overwhelming. Planning and preparation will help, but there will be curve balls thrown your way, it’s important to take a big picture of your current life and what your life may look like in the future. Be realistic, talk to divorced friends who will be honest re: the struggles, loneliness and finances, it’s not easy and neither is a horrible marriage, whatever you choose be ready, prepared and organized.
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