How to Prepare for Divorce in the New Year

It’s a new year, which means out with the old and in with the new, right? Perhaps that’s why January has been unofficially dubbed “divorce month,” as it’s the time of year when filings tend to rise, according to MarketWatch. But before you get the ball rolling on your divorce, make sure you’re prepared. Here’s how.

Why the New Year Ushers in Divorce

New Year

While there’s certainly no right or wrong time of year to divorce, there are a number of reasons why filings increase in the month of January, including:

  • Wanting a fresh start in the new year
  • Not wanting to ruin the holidays
  • The stress of the holidays was the last straw
  • Avoiding tax issues associated with divorcing at the end of the year

Preparing for Divorce in the New Year

New Year

Regardless of the reasons why you’ve decided to divorce at this time, there are some specific things you should do to prepare, such as:

1. Organizing financials

Make a list of debts for you and your spouse and run a credit report for both of you as well. Also, gather your bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, and tax documents for the past two to three years for reference.

2. Taking inventory of assets

This includes real estate, vehicles, financial accounts, pensions, retirement accounts, stocks, mutual funds, businesses, life insurance, household items and furnishings, appliances, electronics, jewelry, and art. Note their value, how much you still owe on them (if anything), and whether you think they are separate or community property.

3. Establishing your own accounts

If you’re worried your spouse may cut you off from accounts, then you might want to consider creating a separate account of your own with enough funds in it to cover at least a month or two of expenses. 

4. Making copies of important paperwork

It’s certainly not unheard of for angry spouses to destroy or hide important documents, so it’s best to make copies and store them in a safe place beforehand. This includes real estate papers, vehicle titles and loans, estate planning documents, tax returns, insurance documents, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, and proof of income.

5. Changing passwords

If your spouse has access to your banking accounts, social media, and email, you’ll want to change your passwords and security questions before filing for divorce. Also, make sure to log out of those accounts if your spouse has access to your devices. While you’re at it, change the access codes for those, too!

6. Watching your behavior

Not that going about your life, as usual, is wrong, but keep in mind that during a divorce, both your and your spouse’s behavior will be under the microscope. So, make sure that you don’t send any texts, make any social media posts, take any photos, or make any expenditures you wouldn’t want to show up in court. 

7. Building a support system

It’s vital to surround yourself with trusted, supportive loved ones during such a significant life change. You might even consider consulting a therapist to help you deal with your emotions in a healthy way.

8. Looking into mediation

It’s essential to consider your options for divorce ahead of time. Mediation has a number of advantages over litigating a divorce, including time and money savings, in addition to simply being an easier and less confrontational approach. During this process, a neutral third party will help you negotiate an amicable divorce agreement. 

For more information on mediation as you consider divorce in the new year, contact our experienced team today.

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