Steps To Take Before Filing For Divorce

April 6, 2021

Deciding to divorce is a monumental and overwhelming decision. It is a process that may take longer than anticipated. It is stressful, both emotionally and financially, for you, your spouse, your children, and even your extended family. But there are steps to take before filing for divorce that can help speed up the process and reduce stress. Contact the experienced lawyers of the Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 for an initial consultation and learn how we can help you navigate the challenges associated with divorce. Additionally, if you are contemplating divorce, there are many steps to take before filing for divorce to help you prepare for the process.

Consider Marriage Counseling

Even if you are certain you want or need to divorce, it may be a good idea to speak with a marriage counselor or therapist. The end of a marriage is one of the most emotional and stressful experiences in life. Discussing with a licensed professional the problems underlying the desire to divorce can help you and your spouse prepare for the discussions and compromises that will follow in the divorce process. While counseling could lead to reconciliation, it is helpful even if you ultimately decide to divorce because it can reduce the emotional turmoil and anger arising from the break up of a marriage.

Assets And Debts

Before filing for divorce in the state of Colorado, it is important to get a full understanding regarding both you and your spouse’s assets and debts. This includes accounts and property held in each of your individual names as well as joint accounts and assets. You need to identify all assets and debts, collect the account numbers, and know in whose name each is held. If possible, gather or print recent statements. The assets and debts you will need to eventually itemize include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages for real property
  • Investment accounts, such as stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts
  • Personal property, such as your cars and other vehicles
  • Leisure vehicles, such as boats
  • Artwork
  • Jewelry
  • Loans

It is important to consider whether or not you will have an adversarial divorce. If you believe that your spouse will be abrasive and hide assets, you may want to attempt to calculate all of your assets and debts prior to serving divorce papers or officially filing for divorce.

Income And Expenses

As part of the divorce process, the court will consider your and your spouse’s income and expenses when determining the division of assets and spousal maintenance payments. Gather sufficient documentation to show average monthly expenses and your and your spouse’s income. Documents you want to collect include:

Again, if you have the belief that your spouse will be adversarial and attempt to hide either income or expenses, you may want to attempt to determine this information prior to actually filing for divorce.

Gather Necessary Documents

There are also non-financial documents to gather before filing for divorce that will help the court determine how to craft an order that appropriately addresses your particular situation. Some of the documents to gather may include the following:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
  • Estate planning docs, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney
  • Health insurance information

Carefully Consider the Children

The prospect of divorce is stressful for all members of the family, especially children. If you have children, keep them top of mind as you approach the divorce process. Ensure you are supporting them emotionally and helping them feel safe despite the uncertainty divorce can cause. Make sure to always visit with your soon-to-be ex-spouse in a kind way, and never speak poorly of him or her in front of your children. Consider whether or not your children may benefit from professional counseling during this difficult time as well.

Complete Necessary Purchases And Sales

Once you file for divorce, the court may order that no assets held by you or your spouse can be purchased or sold. If there are items you have been considering purchasing or selling, or are in the process of purchasing or selling, you should complete those transactions prior to filing for divorce.

It is important to note that it is illegal to fraudulently transfer assets in order to reduce the number of assets that can be divided during the divorce proceedings, but if you have legitimate transactions that you intended to complete, you should finish them prior to filing. Additionally, do not squander away money on large purchases, as this can be seen by the court as depleting the marital assets intentionally. If you are questioning whether or not you have the legal right to make a particular purchase prior to filing for divorce, consider visiting with our experienced family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group.

Determine Your Housing Situation

Divorce is a process that can take many months to complete. One of the steps to take before filing for divorce is to determine where you will live during the divorce. It is important to consider visiting with an attorney before moving out if you intend to move out of the marital home. Moving out of the marital home may impact a spouse’s ability to claim a right to the marital home during the divorce process. Take time to determine whether or not it is in your best interest financially and legally to move out from the marital home, and if you make the decision to do so, where you will live.

Handle Your Digital Accounts

Digital accounts and assets are a large part of the modern world. If you and your spouse share an email address, you may want to set up a new email account prior to filing for divorce. You will want an email to which your spouse does not have access in order to communicate with your attorneys and others. Similarly, if your spouse knows all your passwords to your various social media and other online accounts, you may want to change those passwords.

Develop A Support Network

Because divorce is often an emotionally challenging experience, it is important to have a network of friends and family to rely upon for support. Let them know you will be reaching out to them when you need assistance or encouragement. Consider also whether or not you may want to seek professional counseling in order to help you process difficult emotions during this tumultuous time.

Consider Visiting With an Experienced Family Law Attorney Before Filing for Divorce

One of the most important steps to take before filing for divorce can be contacting an experienced family law and divorce attorney. Our compassionate attorneys at the Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 can help ensure that all of your questions are answered and ensure your legal rights remain protected. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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