Every divorce is different, so providing advice on steps to take beforehand risks providing too much — or too little — information for a particular situation. The information that a spouse enduring domestic abuse needs is different from the information needed by a spouse who has learned that they’ve been cheated on. Still, there are some issues that will be true under almost all circumstances. Here are some of the most important steps you need to take and things you need to consider before moving forward with a divorce proceeding.

  • Make sure that you have money available to you. This is more of a challenge for some situations than others, but it is important to understand that the legal process of getting a divorce costs a good deal of money. Additionally, depending upon your situation you may find yourself needing cash to pay for a place to stay, food and more.
  • Set up your own credit and bank account. If you have been relying upon your spouse’s credit rating for all household expenses and have never set up your own credit, you need to get started. Open a bank account and get your own credit card so that you will be able to open up accounts (such as for utilities, a new apartment, etc.) on your own.
  • Start documenting the specifics of your marriage, including making copies of bills and tracking expenses and activities. This will be important when it comes to determining questions about child support, spousal support and child custody. Make sure you’re also recording information about who is responsible for taking care of your children, and if you plan on pursuing child custody make sure that you are attending important events such as parent-teacher conferences, playdates and pediatrician appointments.
  • Make sure that you have a secure place to put your most valued possessions and documents. A safe deposit box is usually a good choice. In addition to storing important documents such as your identification, birth certificate, and passport, make copies of all important financial information and put those copies in there too.
  • Unless you are a victim of abuse, do not plan on leaving your home. Doing so can be viewed as abandonment. Though continuing to share a home can be unpleasant, it is important to maintaining your legal rights.

Most importantly, contact an attorney who can help you with all steps of your divorce and make an appointment so that they can guide you through your next steps and the process ahead.

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