Initiating a divorce is a big event in your life, and shouldn’t be done without preparation. Making sure all your ducks are in a row before you file not only makes it seem less scary, but also helps to protect you once you do file. Here are eight tips that are important to know before filing for divorce in Arizona.
1: Consult with a lawyer.
Make sure you talk to at least one family law attorney before filing for divorce. In your consultation, the lawyer will ask about things like finances, children, and other issues that could complicate the divorce or possibly even endanger you and the kids. Even if you don’t hire the first lawyer you talk to, you should leave their office with a clearer path forward.
2: Gather financial documents. The division of marital assets will be one of the most central issues in the divorce, so it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what to expect. Gather financial statements from all of your marital accounts, including checking, savings, retirement, and debt. Assembling this information before you file is a good idea as it makes it harder for your spouse to seek revenge or hide money.
3: Open your own accounts. Once you announce your intention to divorce, your spouse may use marital assets in an attempt to control the situation, including but not limited to draining joint bank accounts and maxing out joint credit cards. Opening your own checking, savings, and credit card accounts now will help to secure your financial stability during the divorce proceedings.
4: Pay down shared debt. If you have the ability to pay down shared debt and close accounts before filing for divorce, it’s a good idea to do so. Closing accounts will help to prevent a spouse from running up the debt out of retribution once you file.
5: Freeze your credit. It’s also a good idea to freeze your credit before filing for divorce. Once you’ve opened your own credit card and bank accounts in just your name, you can freeze your credit by calling all three credit reporting agencies. Once frozen, no one will be able to get credit in your name unless you call first to lift the hold.
6: Clean up your social media accounts. Once you’ve done your due diligence to protect your finances during the divorce, protect your future by making sure your social media accounts don’t have anything on them that could be used against you. This is especially true if you have children with your spouse, and anticipate a custody battle.
7: Wait until you’re ready to announce the divorce. Even if it feels a bit like pretending, it’s important not to voice your plans to file for divorce until you’re ready. A spouse may react completely differently than you expect once you announce your intentions to divorce them, so make sure you’ve taken all the necessary steps to protect yourself.
8: Request temporary orders. Once you file for divorce, you’ll be in a kind of limbo, where you and your spouse no longer completely share assets, but are not yet really separate households, either. Don’t be afraid to request temporary orders to help you through this time. This may include temporary spousal maintenance, called pendente lite, as well as child support and a temporary parenting schedule.
Filing for divorce can be an intimidating step, but having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help reassure you. To schedule a free consultation, contact the Simon Law Group today, and we’ll help you be as ready as possible when it’s time to file.