Getting Divorced? Tips to Help
A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Divorced and Splitting One House into Two
Getting a divorce is a difficult process at best. You are just beginning to get your head around the emotions, so the last thing you can think about is financial and legal issues.To help you navigate the process, here is a breakdown of our top tips in a step-by-step guide.
1. Separate your accounts.
Take your name off any joint bank accounts and credit accounts with zero balances. This is important so you are not liable for any new bills your spouse may incur.
2. Pull a copy of your credit report.
Make a list of any joint accounts and a timeline in which to resolve them. This is important because if your spouse reneges on their portion of the financial responsibility, you will still be legally responsible for payment. Many couples have gotten a divorce only to find themselves in a credit nightmare years later. According to Amy Crane of Bankrate.com, negotiate with your spouse during the dissolution proceedings to pay off any loans, credit cards and other accounts in a manner that gives you both equal financial responsibility. Make sure that everything the two of you agree to is drafted into the dissolution agreement so that you have some recourse later should your spouse neglect to hold up his or her end of the deal. You should also notify credit companies of the divorce proceedings and ask them to freeze your accounts until they are paid off or the balance is transferred to individual accounts.
3. Establish credit in your name.
Many couples, particularly those who have been married for a long time, primarily establish credit in one person’s name, usually whoever has the higher score. This means that one person’s credit rating may not be as strong. Crane says it is important that you establish your own credit, but do not go overboard. Open one or two accounts and keep each balance low to give your credit a bump without getting into a lot of new debt.
4. If you own a home, decide who will carry the mortgage.
Usually, the person who physically leaves the home is the one whose name needs to be removed from the deed and the mortgage. However, this depends on whether one of you is keeping the home and can afford the payments. It should be noted in the final divorce decree who will keep the home and provide a certain amount of time for that person to get a new loan or refinancing in their name, releasing the other spouse of financial responsibility so that they can establish credit to find a new place to live.
1. Consult with an attorney.
Even if you are anticipating simple divorce proceedings and are comfortable filing the paperwork yourself, you should still consult an attorney. The laws on dissolution vary from state to state and you may not be aware of all of the rules. Keep in mind that many divorces involve issues of children, property, taxes, support, custody and more. An attorney can tell you if you have missed something in your negotiations. Many first consultations are complimentary, so you do not have to feel pressured to hire the attorney. Generally, you can file yourself, if any of the following conditions apply: your divorce is uncontested by either party; you don’t have children or you do have children and completely agree on a custody arrangement; you are both employed and fully able to support yourselves; you can provide clear grounds for dissolution (i.e. irreconcilable differences); you are both mentally stable; you can wade through the paperwork and get the proper signatures and notarizations upon the official filing.
2. Plan ahead for child support/alimony.
The non-custodial parent will likely be required to pay support for any children under the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state in which you live. When setting the amount, the courts will take all aspects of child-rearing into account, including clothing, shelter, food, educational expenses and more. The financial disclosure given by both parties during the dissolution process also plays a role in the amount of child support set by the court. The same disclosure also plays a role in determining Spousal Support or Maintenance, which is meant to help one spouse continue in the lifestyle in which they have become accustomed to living. There is usually a pre-determined amount of time and conditions set for those receiving spousal support.
COPING WITH EMOTIONS
1. Make sure your decision is final.
Ask yourself if this is really what you want. Make sure you are somewhat resolute in your decision to split. This is the best way to really move on and make a fresh start. Greg Reid of Divorce Magazine recommends that you try everything possible, from mediation to talk therapy, before making the decision to split to ensure you will not have regrets later.
2. Remove yourself from the situation physically.
It is even harder than usual to move on when you are still involved in each other’s daily life. As soon as possible, one of you should arrange to live elsewhere to give yourselves some emotional breathing room. Even if you communicate daily, the distance will help you begin to accept the situation and heal.
3 Seek counselling.
Texas therapist Cynthia McKenna, LPC, NCC recommends counseling for couples, whether they are on the verge of divorcing or have made the final decision to split. Counseling can be a wonderful tool for couples who want to work things out and for those who have decided to divorce,” she said. An objective 3rd party, giving feedback, can be a great resource. A counselor can help improve communication so you can get past anger to hear and be heard.”
4 Write your feelings in a journal.
Jotting down how you feel from day to day can serve two purposes: it will help you vent and will assist you and your counselor in assessing your emotional state. The sequence of emotions isn’t the same for everyone, but most people feel depression, anger, loss/grief, fear at what will happen next and finally acceptance and hope,”McKenna said.5.Do not give up on life.
Many people become buried in depression and self-doubt after divorce. To combat this, the best thing to do is get out of the house. Meet new people. Join a divorce support group. Try a new hobby. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy being single again.