By Donna M. Chesick
Individuals, who are contemplating divorce, should carefully consider their decision before telling their spouse that they want to end their marriage. Too often people act on their emotions “letting the cat out of the bag” well before they have thought out all the ramifications of their decision.
Following are a few things to consider prior to announcing your intentions to your spouse:
Carefully assess your financial situation. Locate and make copies of all important financial records and data relating to your marital lifestyle. Review all of the assets you own and all debts that you owe. Prepare a monthly budget of your monthly expenses. It is much easier to gain access to this information if your spouse is unaware that you are considering divorce.
Consider potential current expenses. If you have family expenses that you are considering such as home or car repairs, clothing for yourself or your children, or other household purchases it may be better to pay for these now rather than to have to argue with your spouse later about who might be responsible for them.
Accumulate some money in a savings account in your single name. In Pennsylvania, an equitable distribution state, this will be considered marital property and will have to be disclosed at some point, but it will allow for accessible cash during the divorce process.
Establish credit in your single name. If you have no credit card in your single name you should apply for one and begin using it for minor purchases just to establish a history. Once you formally separate you should cancel all joint credit cards.
Seek the help of a family therapist. Contemplating divorce can be a very emotional time and seeing a family therapist to help you work out some of the emotional issues you may be going through can be very helpful. Often unhappiness, anger and frustration can lead to depression or other conditions. When these negative aspects build up it can give people false courage and justification to give up instead of looking for ways to solve their problems. Talking with a family therapist may help to gain perspective on your current relationship.
Consult with a family law attorney. Once you have completed all the preliminary financial fact finding you should consult with a family law attorney who specializes in divorce. You will want to ask them pointed questions to determine how the divorce process works, what you can expect as you go along, the fees that you will be charged and what type of settlement you might expect based on your financial situation. Be sure to take all of the financial information you have gathered with you to your attorney consultation and make copies of this information ahead of time so that you are not surrendering your only copy.
Consult a divorce financial specialist. Consulting a financial professional for assistance in analyzing the financial consequences that can result from divorce is critical. Concerns such as identifying and dividing property, alimony and child support benefits, dividing assets, debt and loan issues, and monthly income needs should be carefully examined to determine if an individual will be able to survive financially post divorce. With recent economic conditions more and more individuals are finding out that they cannot afford to divorce, especially when marital debts overshadow marital assets. Not just any financial professional is specifically qualified and trained to properly assist in this area. Certified Divorce Financial Analyst’s are specially trained to understand the complicated financial issues surrounding divorce.
Divorce can be a very emotional and costly process. It can cause dramatic changes in lifestyle, destroy relationships, and may leave a family emotionally devastated. Become as educated as you can on the legal process as it relates to divorce. There are numerous books you can read, online divorce sites that you can visit or divorce classes and support groups you can utilize. The more educated you become on the process and what you might expect the better equipped you will be to make a viable decision on how to proceed. Take enough time to carefully consider all aspects before you make a decision that will most certainly change your life.
Donna M. Cheswick is a Financial Consultant and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst with BPU Investment Management Inc. She can be reached at 724-837-1130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.