Getting divorced can be an emotional and complicated process. But by preparing and planning ahead, you will have the information you need to smooth the divorce process in the future. In fact, preparing for a divorce now could save you considerable time, costs, and stress down the road.
Although the process of divorce looks similar for many couples, you should always consider speaking with a lawyer about your unique situation. Below are some basic suggested steps to help prepare for divorce in Massachusetts. Taking these steps toward divorce – even if you never actually get divorced – can provide financial security and actually strengthen the trust between you and your spouse.
1.) Learn More About Your Options
There are many ways to get divorced, and some methods bypass the courtroom. Here are some options you might consider:
Litigation. This is the traditional courtroom approach, and it involves a judge making decisions for your family. Litigation is usually the costliest route to divorce, but it may be an effective solution to high-conflict situations or if you and your spouse cannot cooperate with each other.
Attorney-Assisted Settlement. In this option, opposing attorneys work together to reach a comprehensive settlement that addresses both parties’ issues. Compared to courtroom litigation, attorney-assisted settlement is a viable and often less costly approach to divorce.
Mediation. A slightly less involved form of divorce resolution, mediation allows you and your spouse to work with a qualified and neutral “mediator” who will help you come up with compromise solutions based on your unique situation. This is a great way to keep costs low and find solutions that work for everyone. It is important to work with an attorney while you are going through mediation.
DIY-Divorce. If you aren’t facing a complicated divorce and want to keep costs low, you could consider a do-it-yourself divorce. But it is essential to follow Massachusetts legal procedures correctly to avoid mistakes that could put your divorce agreement at risk in the future.
If you’re not sure whether divorce is right, or if you want more options, you might investigate couples therapy or speak with a lawyer about a postnuptial agreement.
2.) Inventory and Gather Documents
While it never hurts to be organized, it’s particularly important to be organized if you’re thinking about divorce.
You’ll need to gather up all records you’ve accumulated throughout your marriage so you can enter the divorce process informed and prepared. Start out by seeking out financial documents, legal documents, and other records such as:
- Bank statements
- Investments and stock records
- Retirement plans, 401ks, and other account information
- Mortgages and automobile payments
- Credit card statements
- Your children’s birth certificates
- Tax returns
- Immigration or travel papers
Also consider inventorying any important assets that you own, including inheritances and properties. If you need to take steps to protect your documents and records from your spouse, invest in a safety-deposit box or consult with your lawyer.
3.) Stay Off Social Media
Far too often, people turn to social media to air out their grievances against their spouse, or to find out what their spouse is doing. But did you know that your spouse could report this activity to the court? It can be dangerous to your divorce settlement, any custody agreements you might have, and any spousal support or alimony agreements.
For example, if you are seeking spousal alimony but post pictures of yourself on lavish vacations before your divorce, your spouse could use this against you. While most of us don’t think this could happen, it does – and often.
Instead of spending time on social media, focus on preparing for your divorce and keeping open communication with your loved ones. This will not only keep your divorce process moving forward, but it can help you emotionally as well. Spend time with a solid support system of family, friends, or other people you can trust.
4.) Get In Tune With Your Goals
Before you immerse yourself in the divorce process, take a step back to breathe. Hone in on your goals and what you want after your divorce, so you know what you’re working toward. It may be helpful to ask yourself questions like:
- What do I want out of this?
- What will I want my life to look like after divorce?
- Which problems will divorce solve?
- Which additional steps should I take to ensure I’m taking care of myself?
By thinking about these things now, you’ll be well-prepared to face your divorce and the future beyond.
Contact a Divorce Attorney Serving Massachusetts
One helpful step to preparing for your divorce in Massachusetts is to consult a qualified divorce attorney. Koiles Pratt Family Law Group serves clients in Massachusetts from the early stages of their marriage through to divorce and other family legal issues.
Our attorneys can help you learn more about preparing for your divorce. To begin, give our office a call at 978-744-7774.