What To Do If Considering A Divorce Action

Filing for divorce can be an overwhelming decision.  Taking the initial steps to contact and consult with an attorney can be difficult and it may take you considerable time to take that first step.  However, there are a number of things you should be doing while you are still in the decision making process.  Protecting yourself early in the process is paramount.  It can save you, and your family, time, money and emotional strain during the divorce proceedings and well after the divorce has been finalized.  While every case is different, these suggested steps will aid anyone contemplating a divorce.

Accumulate financial information and documentation:  Knowing your financial situation before filing for divorce is important.  Knowing the extent and nature of your assets and liabilities is critical.  Divorce cases require the production of documentation confirming assets and liabilities.  If you don’t know what exists, it will be harder to determine if the disclosure is complete.  Make sure you are aware of all financial accounts including checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts so that you can discuss them with your attorney when the divorce proceeding has been initiated.  Review and copy tax returns, credit card statements, bank statements, retirement plan statements, tax assessments, mortgage statements, etc.

Understand expenses:  A divorce will diminish the available cash flow for everyday expenses such as housing, utilities, and food.  The expenses of one household will be far less than those associated with two.  In preparation for this, it is helpful to have a complete understanding of your expenses on a monthly basis so that you can calculate the impact of divorce on cash flow.  Consider use of the expense sheet found on page 3 of the financial affidavit form.  See http://www.courts.state.nh.us.  Understanding how much money you need on a monthly basis before that need is realized will make it much easier for you when the separation actually occurs.

Keep notes and records:  It can be very difficult to accurately and completely recall incidents and circumstances that may be relevant to your divorce.  Remembering dates and times can be even harder.  Keeping a journal, especially in cases involving parenting, can be exceptionally helpful to you and your attorney.  Keeping track of important emails, text messages and events will also aid your case.  If an attorney asks that you prepare such a journal, it will not be subject to production, but will be considered privileged as attorney-work product.  Journals, emails, text messages and social media may be powerful evidence in divorce cases that can be used for and against you.

Think about a parenting schedule:   Knowing what you would like to present as your proposed parenting plan can assist you and your attorney in the early stages of the divorce process.  While you are not likely to create a comprehensive plan on your own, thinking about what will work well for you and your children is crucial.  Refer to the form Parenting Plan, available at http://www.courts.state.nh.us.


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