10 Things To Do Before Filing for Divorce


With every big change, you prepare. When you switch jobs, you analyze and contemplate the market advancement opportunities before throwing your hat in the new ring. Buying a home often involves months of meticulous planning, from protecting your credit and securing verifiable income to reading neighborhood — and perhaps school district — reviews.

Yet often, emotionally charged situations cause us to forget our normal life-tested processes. Unfortunately for many, divorce is one of those high stress, spark-filled situations where our typical need-to-know investigative techniques fall short.

Before you jump in without researching and preparing, review the top list of 10 things you need to do before filing for divorce.

1. Determine your worth.
Make a list of your assets, from IRAs to multiple businesses and real estate, etc. and gather relevant documentation. Clearly identifying and acknowledging your financial situation in relation to your spouse’s helps you outline your financial goals for the separation and plan appropriately. Don’t forget to gather information regarding your liabilities including credit card debt.

2. Be sure what you really want is a divorce.
This may seem obvious; however, as we’ve already noted, the decision to get a divorce is often an emotional one and emotions can interfere with normal intellectual exploration. Make sure to research properly just as you would with any other life-altering event. Draft a pros and cons list and consider intently what your personal life will be like after the divorce. Reach out to friends and confer with others in a divorce support group. Go to counseling yourself to determine your true feelings about your situation.

3. Try marriage counselling one more time.
Even if your marriage nevertheless dissolves, counseling can greatly aid in airing grievances appropriately. Omitting extra emotional baggage from typical divorce proceedings creates better communicative results and helps both parties achieve their end goals. Plus, you never know, it just might work.

4. Have the kitchen table discussion.
Although this avenue is not appropriate for every situation, some divorcing spouses can benefit from an honest, open discussion about the reasons one spouse desires to end the marriage and how best to go about that dissolution. This should take place before attorneys, legal filings and heated arguments get in the way. In fact, you may find it leads you and your spouse toward a more collaborative divorce or other alternative dispute resolution methods, which helps protect your privacy and keep you and your family out of court.

5. Find an attorney that fits you and your situation.
Attorney styles vary. You should take into account how each may fit with your personality and the type of lawyer you want for your particular situation. Do you need a more empathetic lawyer, a collaborative attorney or a hard-hitting, aggressive litigator, or a combination of both? Research options. Make lists. Keep notes.

6. Plan for your monthly needs both during and after the divorce.
In order to align your financial goals after divorce, you need an accurate picture of your current assets and debts as well as your desired division and budget. Plan appropriately for normal monthly needs as well as added expenses, not just in legal fees, but possibly relocation, loss of work, necessary travel, child support and other additional expenses related to your new situation. You can download a monthly budget sample from the resources section on Pollock Begg’s website.

7. Copy as many of your financial records as possible.
Cases can be won and lost on documentation. Consider if you and your spouse have shared paper file records at home as well as shared online accounts. Some spouses may try to limit your ability to access after finding out about the divorce filing. Gather, copy and organize as many documents as possible prior to serving divorce papers, to save the stress and headaches of having your attorney obtain these documents for you which of course costs money.

8. Close joint credit cards.
This may be a red flag for your spouse, so choose your implementation time wisely. Generally, it’s best to close joint credit cards and accounts as a precautionary measure, so a spouse who may get particularly revengeful cannot use monetary means of to deploy any frustrations.

9. Diary custody time.
If you already are separated and share custody of your children without an official agreement, start keeping a diary of your time with them so you can accurately report how much time you and your spouse each receive and whether you want more or less. Notice how children handle the transition between homes and keep their needs in perspective as well to best protect the family unit.

10. Settle before you file.
Settling out of court, prior to filing can be the most time-efficient, cost-effective, and private avenue. It’s worth the conversation with your attorney to see if any creative solutions can help you and your spouse settle prior to any court filings.

If you have reviewed this list and are considering divorce, contact the experienced Pittsburgh divorce lawyers at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, to make sure your financial interests are protected and your goals are aligned with reasonable outcomes.