What are the key important steps to take if you feel that a divorce is likely? Here at Lewis and Matthews, we do provide divorce pre-planning and divorce coaching. So if you think that you’re headed down the path to divorce, I would recommend that you come in and speak to me about your situation. I could give you some practical advice about what you should and shouldn’t be doing if you do think that you are headed down that path.
One common mistake that I see people make is not having their own money. So let’s just say that you are the stay-at-home parent, you aren’t working outside the home, you’re completely dependent on the other parent for support. What are you going to do if the working party decides that they are no longer going to deposit their paycheck in the joint account? How are you going to pay for your bills? Other things to think about is how are you going to pay for your ordinary living expenses? How are you going to pay for your credit cards? If you are a party who has not been working outside of the home, you might want to think about getting a secured credit card or exploring options that you can do in order to get some credit. Perhaps have a family member help you with obtaining a credit card. A lot of times folks will get divorced and one of the parties has been a stay-at-home parent for a number of years, they don’t have any credit established, it becomes very difficult for them to go and rent an apartment. They don’t have established credit for that.
Other factors you need to think about is, where am I going to live? Am I going to stay in the marital residence or in the rental that you’re presently in, am I going to move out? And then you have to think, “well, if I do decide that I’m going to move out, am I going to be able to get my personal property out of that residence?” We see that happen a lot where one party says “I’ve had enough. I’m leaving,” they move out and then getting their personal property out of the residence becomes a problem. So, you want to think through those things. Perhaps you need to have a storage facility reserved. Perhaps you need to make arrangements to have your items moved so that there isn’t that issue of getting your stuff out.
Other things that you want to think about are, what about health insurance? If you’re being covered by one of the party’s health insurance plans, you have to keep in mind that once a divorce goes through, you’re not eligible to remain on your ex-spouse’s health insurance plan. That’s a huge issue if you have medical conditions that need that health insurance or if it’s a situation where you’ve met your deductible for that calendar year, what are you going to do moving forward? You can stay on a party’s health insurance plan up until the decree is entered by the court, so you have at least 91 days to figure that part out.
Other factors you have to consider are, what would happen if he cuts me off or she cuts me off? What do you do if you don’t have the access to any credit cards? And maybe you should consider whether you should have some of the funds in the joint account if it’s a situation where you feel like you are in jeopardy of having the rug pulled out from underneath you, so you need to think about those things.
And then the practical aspects of where am I going to live? What am I going to do? Let’s say that you have been a stay-at-home parent and your children are now older or grown or close to being 19 years of age, you’re not going to be getting child support, you have to think “Okay, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Do I need to start thinking about getting a job? Do I need to think about getting some career training? What am I going to do moving forward?” So those are factors that you should think about in considering a divorce and they’re really practical factors.
Other things that people will do is, if it’s a situation where one party has access to most of the financial information and you don’t, you might want to consider getting copies of tax returns and account statements and other pertinent financial information and get that in advance so you have it. In Colorado, both parties are required to do full financial disclosures, but sometimes that can be a problem, so you want to make sure that you have access to all the financial records and that will help your attorney in terms of trying to complete your financial disclosures. You also want to think about the children and what can you do if you do have children? What can you do about maintaining stability for the children and in other words, are you going to live somewhere near where they’re going to school? How are you going to handle that?
Other factors that you have to keep in mind are, if you want to keep the marital residence and the other party is obligated on the loan for that residence, then if you want to keep it, you’re going to have to qualify to refinance that property and remove that other party from liability on the mortgage. The court is not going to require a party to remain jointly on an obligation for a period of time after the divorce is completed. So if you want to keep the home, you have to think about how are you going to be able to refinance it and pay off the other party if there’s equity or qualify to refinance so that the loan is solely in your name.
So those are factors that you need to be thinking about prior to filing for a divorce. We’d be happy to go over those factors with you and give you some coaching as to the best way to proceed. Call us at (303) 329-3802 if you’d like to speak with us about your divorce.