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Divorce Planning Tips

Having a family law practice with a heavy concentration of divorce work for 25 years creates a significant base of practical knowledge. Much of that knowledge should be intuitive, but sometimes, it can be difficult to comprehend for a person going through the emotions of the moment. There are multiple conflict points which can sap emotional well-being and can lead to poor or unfocused decisions. When going through this process, it is extremely important to do the following:

1. Know your assets and debts - even if you have traditionally not been the finance person in the household, this information is vital for you and your attorney. Learn as much as you can, even if your spouse is secretive - check the mailbox, the desk, call the banks and credit card issuers. Run a credit report, check the price of stocks in retirement accounts. Gather tax returns and account statements, as many as you can. Each of these items tell a story.

2. Make yourself aware of the identity and contact information of your childrens' teachers, principals, friends, medical providers, coaches, activity leaders. Know their schedules, their academic achievements and their academic weaknesses. If your spouse is a good parent, don't be afraid to acknowledge it; conversely, if your spouse is a poor parent, don't assent to lengthy unspervised contact "just because".

3. If there are joint assets you can reach, sequester some significant portion for your own use. Secure your items with sentimental or great monetary value, such as jewelry and heirloom items.

4. Terminate credit lines on which there are joint obligations, to the extent institutions, will allow.

5. Look at your residence with a jaded eye. Do you want to keep it? Should you keep it? Is a choice to keep a residence too deferential to the perceived wishes of children, and is there a less expensive or more convenient housing choice ultimately available?

6. Review your insurance policies, but DO NOT cancel health, homeowner or auto policies until your attorney tells you to do so.

7. Engage your attorney in the pre-divorce planning process.

This course is not an easy one, and involves significant effort. However, it can be done in such a way where each party moves forward into a new chapter of their lives with a healthier outlook on life and responsibility.