Divorce can turn into a long, emotionally and financially costly process. A few steps of preparation can pay dividends for you in the future.
- Take a Close Look at Your Finances
Start by preparing a financial statement. For the most part, in Washington, D.C., every asset obtained during the marriage is marital property, and anything obtained prior to the marriage is separate property. The same goes for debt. Make a list of marital property and debt, and separate property and debt. You should also take a look at each of your respective incomes and break that down into monthly income and current expenses. Doing this will help you get a good sense of what marital property and debt there is to divide and what each of you can expect to be earning and spending a month separately. This preparation will also give you more information to provide your divorce lawyer who in turn will be able to give you a better sense of what to expect in negotiations and litigation. It might also save you some lawyer fees down the road if you are able to provide your divorce lawyer with an organized documented accounting of the financial situation.
- Keep Social Media and Text Messages About Your Marriage to a Minimum
It is a common occurrence in divorce cases for social media posts/messages and text messages to be used as evidence in divorce cases. Talking freely about your marriage on social media or over texts can come back to haunt you if there is information that can be used against you, or construed by your spouse’s attorney to paint you in a negative light. The general rule of thumb here is to think of everything you post, send, or receive as something that could be used against you in court, and to act accordingly.
- Learn as Much as You Can About the Process
For the most part a good lawyer should be able to guide you through what to expect, but it is a good idea to go ahead and educate yourself as much as you can. For example, doing some research on how property is divided in Washington, D.C. can go a long way to helping you think about how to communicate important information to your attorney. If you have children you will want to become familiar with the “Best Interest” factors in the D.C. Code. You can review those factors here. You will also want to become familiar with how the D.C. Child Support Guidelines work. You can find information on those guidelines here.
These three steps will help you enter into your divorce prepared and educated to take on the road to come.