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The process of a divorce can be financially overwhelming. Although it is understandably an emotional experience, with proper planning and help from professionals your chances of arriving at a settlement that fully addresses both your long-term financial needs and those of your spouse are greatly increased. Here are some suggestions to help maintain financial stability during the divorce process.

Compile financial documents

Gather historical financial documents such as tax returns, banking records, real estate purchase and sale documents and any other records pertaining to your assets.

Find a good divorce lawyer by asking the right questions

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • How much of your practice is specifically in family law?
  • What is your hourly rate?
  • Do you have other people who usually work on your cases with you? If so, what is their profession and experience? What do you charge for their time? Describe a time line for how you believe my divorce will progress.
  • Do you have a set procedure for handling a divorce case? If so, please describe how you would proceed with a typical divorce case.
  • What do you expect from me as a client?

The most important thing is to make sure that you and your lawyer come to an understanding about the expected outcome.

Do things in manageable pieces

Don't try to do everything at once. The divorce process can be time-consuming and stressful, so it's important to manage your time and allow yourself a set relaxation period each day. Be sure to pay attention to your personal needs and to those of your children.

File for divorce

You or your spouse will need to eventually file for divorce. Your lawyer will file all the necessary documents with the court, which begins the legal divorce process. Ask your lawyer to explain the progression of a divorce case through the court system where your case is filed.

Settlement procedure

Take any mediated or negotiated settlement to your lawyer for review and comments. If you and your spouse do not have an agreement, work with your lawyer to come up with a proposal or encourage your spouse to submit a proposal to you and your lawyer.

Be in control

Accept responsibility for the outcome of your divorce. Remain open to new ideas and constructive suggestions, but make your own decisions. If possible, work toward a settlement of your divorce/agree with your spouse on as many issues as possible. Reserve any remaining disputes for a trial.

Finally, keep in mind that you will need to continue to make plans and set goals for your finances after the divorce. You should keep detailed records of your financial separation and do what needs to be done to transfer ownership of assets (i.e., close credit cards or bank accounts in joint names so your ex-spouse's name is removed from the accounts). Remember to be realistic and review and revise your goals on a regular basis.

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