Get Organized with This Pre-Divorce Checklist

Goodman Law Firm gives a pre-divorce checklist for those who are considering filing for divorce.
  • Aug 12 2019

Are you considering a divorce? If so, there are several steps you can take to help the divorce process go as smooth as possible. Below are nine suggested items to add to your pre-divorce checklist. You may have additional items, depending on your situation. Placing a meeting with an Illinois divorce attorney high on your pre-divorce checklist can be extremely beneficial.

1. Talk to an Illinois Divorce Attorney

It is usually a wise idea to talk to an experienced divorce attorney as soon as you begin considering a divorce. Everyone can benefit from obtaining legal advice regarding divorce actions in Illinois. A simple, uncontested divorce can become complicated and contested without notice. It is best to understand your rights and the steps you should take to protect yourself in several different scenarios. A divorce attorney can also help you develop a more detailed, customized pre-divorce checklist that might include additional steps applicable to your situation.

2. Open a Post Office Box

Even if you intend to remain in the marital home, it is wise to have a post office box in your name only to receive mail from your divorce lawyer. You may also want to temporarily transfer all mail to the post office box to ensure that your spouse does not receive or destroy any of your mail.

3. Create a Personal and Household Budget

Transition to a one-income household can be challenging. It is helpful to create a personal and household budget based on your income and resources alone. A budget allows you to quickly determine whether you can afford your current rent or mortgage payments and living expenses and whether you need to downsize and cut costs. A budget also helps your attorney with support calculations.

4. Copy All Important Documents and Obtain Originals of Personal Documents

Before you discuss divorce with your spouse, it may be wise to gather your important documents. You need to take your original birth certificate, passport, Social Security Card, and any other personal identification documents. Make copies of all financial records, appraisals, estate planning documents, mortgages, debts, credit card statements, bank records, tax returns, titles, ledgers, business records, and other documents that can be used as evidence of income, assets, debts, and financial transactions.

5. Find a Place to Live

Explore what options you have for housing during or following your divorce.  Before vacating the marital residence; however, it’s important to discuss your intentions with an Illinois Divorce Attorney to safeguard your rights.  Your attorney can help you determine when the time is right to move out of the marital home. Even if you intend to remain in the marital home, it may be good to have a backup in case you are threatened and need to leave temporarily to protect yourself and your children. Again, you should discuss this issue with your attorney to determine what is best in your situation. 

6. Secure Personal Items and Heirlooms

If you believe your spouse may destroy your personal items (i.e. photographs, videos, scrapbooks, jewelry, etc.) or family heirlooms, notify your divorce lawyer immediately. You may need to remove them from the home to protect them in a secure location until the divorce is final.

7. Make a Plan for Your Children

Divorce is often difficult for children. Before you tell your children about the divorce, you may want to consult a child psychologist, divorce coach, or other professional. A professional can help you create a plan for telling your children and also seeking help for your children during and after the divorce. Also, discuss parenting responsibilities, including custody and visitation, with your divorce attorney. Develop a plan that is good for you and your children so that you have a beginning point if your spouse decides to contest custody.

8. Update Your Estate Plan

Work with your divorce attorney and estate planning attorney to update your will, trust agreements, powers of attorney, health care directives, beneficiary designations, and other documents as soon as possible. Your divorce attorney can advise you of any laws related to changing estate documents before the divorce is final.

9. Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report

Request a copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. If you have not obtained a copy of your reports within the past 12 months, you can obtain free copies from all three agencies. Continue to monitor your credit reports during and after the divorce to ensure your spouse does not attempt to incur debt in your name or default on any joint debt your spouse is ordered to pay as part of the divorce.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Divorce is never easy, even if the parties are amicable. Some issues can arise that make matters difficult. Working with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney from the beginning can help you reduce the risk of problems arising during and after your divorce. Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm today.

Posted in: Divorce