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Want a divorce? 5 things you need to know

Author: Samantha Hopkins
Published: Jan 12 2014

A couple may divorce for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reasons. Regardless of who is or is not at fault for the disintegrating marriage, you should prepare. Divorce can be a financially and emotionally draining time, but preparation should ensure you receive your equal share. Don't bubble through your divorce; here are five things to consider.

Visit a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to represent you is not mandatory. You can with the proper research and time, handle the divorce without a lawyer. I would recommend that you take the time to visit a lawyer at least once. Depending on the law firms policy your initial consolation might have a small fee or be completely free. Lawyers can guide you through what you need to know about child custody, alimony, and division of assets laws in your states. More than that they can tell you what your spouse may ask for, so you can prepare.

State Jurisdiction

Divorce law differs from state to state. If you, your spouse, or your family live full or part time in two different states, you might be able to file for divorce in either state. In order to file for divorce in a state you need to live in the state for a certain amount of time to meet residency requirements. The time period can be as little as 60 days to as much as 6 months. If you are in a situation where you can choose, you should endeavor to be the first to file. By filing first you can ensure that you control how lenient states will be on alimony, child support, and marital property division. You can also ensure the divorce bills do not include expensive plan tickets to allow you and your lawyer to appear in court.

Tally Marital Assets

This part is vital for a fair divorce. You will need to compile a list of all of the marital assets that have been obtained during your marriage and their relative value. Remember that marital assets include a variety of items. Do not just assume that you cannot benefit from your spouse’s work retirement plan or stocks. As most states run on an equal division of property you are allowed half of it. Here are some other marital assets that you are entitled to include:

- the house
- the cars
- your bank and savings accounts
- miscellaneous items (wine, furnishing, art, antiques, rare items, cemetery plots)
- stocks
- life insurance, and brokerage accounts
- memberships
- any debts obtained
- intellectual property earned
- pets
- travel reward point

A lawyer can answer any other questions you have about whether or not items can be considered marital assets. If you are unsure, include the items. The sooner you can compile your list of all of the above assets, the better. Many spouses have been known to hide assets in order to cheat the system. You might also want to begin deciding what items you can and can't live without. You or your lawyer can focus on obtaining these items.

Determine Your and Your Spouses Income

It is vital to compile information on your own and your spouse’s current income in order to determine how much, if any, spousal support AKA alimony or child support you are due. Do this to the best of your ability by consulting pay stubs, tax returns, and your bank accounts. Don't worry if you are currently unemployed because you have been the homemaker for the last few years. While alimony support is falling to the wayside, most states still allow temporary custody to compensate for the fact that your career trajectory has been halted while you cared for the children and maintained your household. Be sure to ask your attorney what your alimony and child custody rights are.

Child Custody

Parents facing a divorce are left with an even more arduous task. Trying to ensure their own place in their child's life. As a parent, child custody is a right that is contingent on responsible behavior that can fulfill the child's needs. Custody is not given to the man or woman based on gender alone. It is a decision that is based on the emotional, mental, and physical safety and wellbeing of the child. That being said, it is important that you maintaining your position in your child’s life and adhere to the law. As of right now the legal custody of your child is still contested. You are not the sole guardian of your child. Do not under any circumstance take the child from school, your home, and skip town or the state. By skipping town you can be arrested for child abduction. This will not look good when the judge makes his final decision. What you should do is seek a temporary court decision on child custody.

Divorce can be a major problem, if you fail to proactively plan. Don't let yourself be blindsided during the divorce process. As soon as you determine that a divorce might be on the horizon, you should start looking into what you need to do to prepare for a rocky divorce.

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