Regardless of how troubled a marriage may be, most couples want to be divorced; they rarely want to go through it.
At California Document Preparers, we assist our clients with uncontested divorce, what we call amicable divorce–where couples agree on division of property and a parenting plan. Yet, given the emotional upheaval and the mountain of details that are inevitable parts of every divorce, it’s not surprising that many couples wind up making critical mistakes. Here are a few things to be thinking about if you and your spouse are contemplating divorce.
1. Don’t forget to update your Living Trust
If you want to prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from receiving the assets you had identified during better times, you need to update these legal documents. If you die before your divorce is final, and you have left your spouse nothing, he or she can sue and recover part of your estate.
2. Don’t take it out on the kids
Children need a supportive environment to deal with divorce. Professionals suggest that you talk about divorce as little as possible, yet answer questions and be truthful; let them know what’s going on and what to expect. Attend school and after-school events, help your kids with homework. Spend time with them. When you’re relaxed, they will be too. Kids are remarkably resilient and savvy; they’re surrounded by other kids whose parents are divorced. They get it.
3. Don’t refuse to see a therapist
Seeing a therapist can help you get through the fluctuating emotions that you will experience. Take care of yourself and think about getting help before you become depressed or angry. A professional therapist is trained to help you and your children through the process. For those who have been married for a long time, a therapist can help you cope with being single again, learning to be self-sufficient.
4. Don’t forget about taxes
Typically, the person who has primary custody of the children lives in the house with the children. But the house may not be the best deal. Maintaining a home is expensive. If you can’t afford the mortgage, taxes and upkeep on the house, you may want to ask for the investment portfolio of equal value instead. You’re now a single person, and the tax landscape changes. A single people is not allowed to shelter as many capital gains from taxes. Stocks can also be at issue. Newly purchased stocks may be more desirable because they will cost you less in capital gains taxes. Not good at this stuff? Talk to your financial adviser or accountant. If you don’t have one, ask us for a referral. It’s a worthwhile investment.
5. Don’t increase your debt
No question about it; divorce is expensive. If you are the spouse who is moving out, you will need money to set up a new household. Whether you’re buying or renting, you’re going to need a large initial payment. Try to get used to having less now. It may seem stressful, but the freedom you’ll enjoy down the line will be well worth the struggle.
6. Don’t wait until after the holidays
There’s no good time of year to get divorced. We traditionally think of the holidays as Thanksgiving, leading up to Christmas and the New Year. But here in our multicultural community, holidays fall on a wide range of calendar dates. For many families, vacations have special meaning—trips to the lake or mountains, family reunions, etc. It’s a lot easier to get used to an empty home before the holidays, and if you’re one of those people who promised yourself you’d never spend another holiday with your spouse, commit to this—it won’t be any easier next year.
7. Don’t forfeit your financial security just because you want out
Just because you want out of your marriage ASAP doesn’t mean you should forfeit your financial security. Be thorough; consult a financial adviser or CPA if you need help. Make copies of important financial documents: pension statements, tax forms, brokerage and mutual fund statements, credit card statements and other records. Be aware of what you own and what you owe. Make sure that you and your children will continue to have health insurance during and after the divorce proceedings. While you are still married to your spouse, an illness or accident can alter the division of property.
It’s necessary that couples agree on division of property and a parenting plan.
We use attorney-approved workbooks and other materials to collect the necessary data, including information about financial accounts.
We prepare the legal documents and file them with the court.
Our dedicated family law specialists are helpful and sympathetic, available by phone and email throughout the process.
Best of all, we’re affordable—just one flat fee.
Jumpstart your divorce by purchasing our documents from CDP’s secure online storefront.
Have you been putting off your Divorce? Most of our clients tell us they’re surprised at just how easy it was! Make an appointment today at one of our three Bay Area offices to get started on your Divorce.