Maryland Family Law: 8 Things to Do Before Divorce

Other than death, divorce is often one of the most painful and stressful situations a husband and wife may face. As such, deciding to divorce your spouse is not a decision that should be taken likely. If you believe your marriage may soon be headed for divorce, here are eight things you should prior to filing.

Consider your Alternatives – Whether it’s attending marriage counseling or seeking spiritual guidance, if you feel there is anything you can do to save your marriage, try it. No matter how amicable it may be, divorce is always emotionally taxing on both parties and their children. Even if it doesn’t work and you still end up filing for divorce, at least you know you tried everything possible to save your marriage first.
Make Copies of Important Documents – Discreetly make copies of any document pertaining to your finances including tax returns, bank and credit card statements, pay stubs, insurance policies, mortgage documents, and investment statements. If you and your spouse use some type of financial software to manage finances (e.g. Microsoft Money or Quicken), make a backup copy.
Take Stock of your Possessions – Take (written) note of everything you own that has value (anything over $100). This may include (but is not limited to) antiques, automobiles, electronics, furniture, and jewelry. Consider also taking pictures of each piece as proof.
Determine What you Owe – Just as important is determining debts you and your spouse have. Find out what debt (e.g. the mortgage, credit card debt, etc.) is in your name and if possible, pay it off before the divorce. If you have a hunch your spouse is going to empty the joint bank account once served with divorce papers, consider withdrawing half from your joint checking and savings accounts if you possible.
Know your Expenses – Knowing your budget and expenses is critical before filing for divorce. If you want primary custody of the kids, you’ll need to know how much it costs to support them, or how much the mortgage payment is if you want to stay in the family home.
Know Your Credit – If you do not have any credit cards in your own name, you may want to apply for one so you can start establishing your own credit history. If your credit is poor, it’s in your best interest to take steps now to start improving it. If your spouse has a history of racking up credit card bills, cancel the cards, impose a spending limit, or if possible, have your name removed as an authorized user.
Save! – Save as much money as you possibly can, especially if you have children. Save the money in an account under your own name so you can access cash easily in the event you need it. Divorces typically incur unexpected costs and many spouses refuse to pay the bills and even child or spousal support.
Consult a Lawyer – One of the most important things you can do prior to filing is consulting a Maryland divorce lawyer. Not only will they help you navigate the complex legal system, they can advise you on what actions to take regarding finances, your children, property, and more.

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