It can be an overwhelming decision to decide whether to get a Raleigh divorce or not. If you have children, you not only have to consider your and your spouse’s needs, but theirs as well. Where do you start? Taking the process one step at a time can make it a bit less daunting; we have a few suggestions for when you are exploring the issue of separation/divorce:
- Speak to a mental health professional. A therapist can be very helpful in helping you process your feelings and providing suggestions on how you can potentially work on some of the issues you are having with your spouse. If your spouse is unwilling to go to marriage counseling, individual therapy can be a good outlet for you to get objective feedback on what is going on with your marriage, and help you decide if separation/divorce is for the best.
- Gather financial records. Even if you are not contemplating a separation, it is important to be educated about the marital finances. Ask your spouse to sit down and go over the bank accounts, debts, tax returns, pay checks, etc. to see what the status of the marriage is now financially, and what your common financial goals should be. If your spouse is unwilling to do this, and you feel a separation is on the horizon, you should copy all bank statements, retirement account statements, debt statements, titles to assets , tax returns, insurance policies, and any other financial records for the past two to five years if possible relevant to the marriage so you have access to them if needed. Keep these in a safe place where your spouse cannot access them. A trusted friend or relative’s house or at work, are good ideas for storing these records.
- After gathering your financial records, make a list of all marital assets and debts. Also prepare a budget containing the marital expenses and income as they are during the marriage, and what your expenses and income will look like upon the separation. Will you be able to meet your reasonable needs? Or will your spouse not be able to? An attorney can speak with you in detail about postseparation support and alimony, and how it may impact your situation.
- Consider opening your own bank account and post office box. This will allow you to have a safe place to receive mail if you are expecting communication from an attorney should you retain one during this process. The separate bank account also allows you to have a place to deposit money if you find yourself removing funds from joint accounts and needing to place them somewhere that cannot be accessed by your spouse. An attorney can best counsel you on what is and is not appropriate regarding removing funds from marital bank accounts.
- Will you move out or will you ask the other spouse to move out? Who can pay the mortgage for your home or rent on the home you share together? If you plan to move out, look at what is available to you within your budget as far as rent/purchasing a new home. Keep in mind school districts if you have children. It is important to speak with an attorney prior to moving out of the marital residence to ensure your rights are protect (see our blog post of Abandonment in North Carolina.)
- Who will pay the marital bills? What bills are joint or only in your or your spouse’s name? If you find yourself in significant debt, going to a divorce financial adviser can be helpful to provide you with financial advice with regard to these preliminary stages and long term financial planning. Our attorneys have significant experience working with such professionals to ensure our clients are well taken care of legally and financially.
- What is a reasonable child custody schedule? This is a very serious issue that would be best discussed with an attorney, particularly if you wish to make a significant relocation with the children.
These are just a few “pieces of the puzzle” when considering a Raleigh divorce, but this will provide you with a good plan to become educated on the financial situation of the marriage, what you need emotionally and what custodial arrangements may work best for your children when exploring separation/divorce. This information provided to an attorney at an initial consultation will provide the attorney with a wealth of information that will allow them to give you thorough detailed legal advice for your particular situation. Knowledge is power, particularly in divorce. Our Raleigh attorneys are ready to assist you in putting the pieces together to build your new life post divorce.
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