Oftentimes, people reach the difficult decision to file for divorce because they’ve reached the end of their rope: they’ve tried everything they can think of to make the marriage work, and none of it has helped. The emotional stress and strain may be so bad that they feel divorce is the only option, and they may be right.
What often gets lost in this analysis is that while divorce brings relief from some problems, it usually creates others. So, even if you are at the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on long enough to consider the following factors. Putting a few things in place will likely give you a softer landing when you finally let go of that rope.
#1: Don’t Just Run From Something, Run TO Something.
People may be so focused on getting out of a bad marriage that they don’t think at all about what they’re getting into by filing for divorce. Divorce (as anyone who’s been through it will tell you) does not magically make everything better. Take some time to formulate goals before starting the process. Where do you want to live? What will you need to make it financially? How do you envision co-parenting with your spouse? Give a great deal of thought to what you want your post-divorce life to look like so that your divorce attorney can help you work toward that goal.
#2: Understand (and Document) Your Finances.
An essential part of divorce is determining how assets will be divided, and arriving at child and/or spousal support arrangements. Those determinations are only as sound as the data they are based on. If you do not have a solid grasp of family assets, debts, income and expenses, you’re not going to know what you should be awarded in the divorce, nor how to negotiate for it.
Prior to filing, make copies of at least six months of bank, retirement and investment account statements and all credit card statements; as many pay stubs for both spouses as possible, especially if income is irregular; three years of tax returns; copies of all life insurance policies; appraisals of any art, jewelry, or other valuable collections; and documentation of the value of any investment property, family business, or other source of income. Also copy documentation of any debt owed by either of you, and of regular household expenses, as well as health insurance information. When you decide to file, this information will prove very valuable to you and your Michigan divorce attorney–especially if your spouse tries to sell or conceal assets or claim less income than is really earned.
#3: Document, Document, Document.
Despite the sensational celebrity divorce trials we hear about in the news, most divorce cases settle. However, you cannot count on the fact that your case won’t go to trial. Therefore, in the weeks and months leading up to a divorce, keep a journal of things that might be relevant at a trial. If you think custody might be an issue, pay attention to things that your spouse does (or doesn’t do) that you would want a judge to be aware of in considering custody.
For instance, if your spouse is verbally abusive to your child, keeping a journal of what your spouse says, the context, and the frequency of those outbursts will help your lawyer prepare a case against your spouse’s custody bid.
The bottom line is that just as every marriage is different, every divorce is, too. If you are considering a divorce in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, or anywhere in Southeast Michigan, the first thing you should do is speak to an experienced Michigan divorce attorney who can advise you on the particulars of your case. Contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI divorce attorneys to schedule a consultation, so that you can be properly prepared when the time comes to file your divorce case.