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The High Income Earner’s Ultimate Guide To Surviving Divorce Complete Series:
Step IV: Gathering of Information/Reconnaissance.
Another advantage of being the spouse that is filing for divorce is that there is a period of time where you will have unhindered access to important financials of the household.
I suggest you make copies of all important financial documents that the court will later base its opinion on when dividing marital assets:
- Documentation of what assets each party brought into the marriage.
- Can include real estate, investments (brokerage account, 529 plans), retirement accounts, inheritance, jewelry/collectibles/valuables..
- Copy of most recent valuation of assets acquired during the marriage.
- Copy of the most recent statements from banks (individual accounts for both parties and joint accounts if any).
- Copy of the most recent credit card statements.
- Copy of all debt (mortgage, personal loans).
- Copy of Life insurance policies.
If you have been keeping tabs on your Net Worth this should be a very basic exercise with the only additional helpful distinction now being if these were pre-marital or post-marital assets.
Step V: Re-assess Decision For Divorce.
Up until this point you have merely consulted with a lawyer and no plans have been officially set into motion.
I would highly suggest using this time once again to reflect on your decision and truly make sure you feel that going through a divorce is the best path to your future happiness.
This will be your last out before irreparable damage to the marital relationship will be done.
Once your spouse receives divorce papers, it is hard to go back to normal even if you do have a last minute change of heart.
Use this time wisely.
Step VI: Setting the Ball (and Chain) In Motion.
If after two periods of reflection separated by time, you still feel that divorce is your only option, the first step is to give your legal counsel the greenlight to proceed.
Typically this involves providing the law firm a retainer (the amount can vary per lawyer) and signing formal papers to start a motion to the court for Divorce.
At this point there will be preparations made to have your spouse served with Divorce papers.
Step VII: The Reaction.
How your spouse reacts to being served with divorce papers will essentially determine what kind of divorce proceedings (and expenses) you will have in store for you.
Your spouse may be served with divorce papers and give a sigh of relief because he or she has been toying with the very same idea but was afraid to act on it.
If that is the case, congratulations, you really have hit the divorce lottery.
These are the (unfortunately rare) cases you hear of where the entire divorce went smoothly, both parties felt that an equitable division was made, and the legal fees were less than a couple of grand total.
A spouse that is hurt by being served with these divorce papers can have far less ideal reactions going all the way to anger and in the most extreme cases entering full DEFCON 1, with pure vindictive motives to punish you for daring to divorce him or her (I will give you a guess which situation I had to deal with).
There is really no way to predict how your spouse will respond.
Whether you file or do not file for divorce should not however be predicated on how you think your spouse will react.
In the back of my mind I knew that this was going to be a difficult divorce based on my relationship history with my former wife as she had several prior examples of having a litigious nature with previous lawsuits she filed or threatened to file on other parties.
However my life at that point was unbearable.
I was literally a shell of my former self walking around, the joy sucked out of my life.
Although I knew the immediate aftermath of filing for a divorce would be incredibly painful, I could not let that sway me in my decision to file as I could not see myself ever being happy again while married to her.
Step VIII: The Children.
For those with children, this is one of the hardest steps to address properly.
Of course the age of your child/children will determine the best course of action when explaining that their mother and father are getting a divorce.
My daughter was 4 years old at the time so it was a challenging situation to begin with, compounded by the fact that my former wife began to reveal her vindictive side by turning my daughter against me.
I cannot stress how important it is to not use your children as bargaining tools or weapons against each other.
The courts look down upon one parent bad mouthing the other in front of the kids, and it is a policy I completely support although in my situation it was difficult to prove/enforce.
Children need reassurance at this very delicate stage in their lives and any affirmation that the divorce was not because of them goes an incredibly long way.
Custody of the children can be a contentious matter.
This is just anecdotal evidence but in my eyes it seems that, like in baseball where a tie goes to the runner, in court a tie goes to the mother.
The courts typically try to not disrupt the child’s normal routine particularly during school months, so invariably one parent will have more time with the child than the other.
There are all sorts of templates made for visitation of the noncustodial parent ranging from a 50-50 mix to an 80-20 split.
Another future complication is if one parent has to move long distance/out of state which could severely limit his or her visitation rights, which may be reduced to summer holidays and school vacation visits only.
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