Steps to Take Before Filing for Divorce

The decision to divorce is often a long time coming. You’ve been slowly drifting apart and have begun to view life differently. The process of a marriage unraveling can be quite protracted until one or both realize the relationship is over.

Before you tell your spouse that you no longer want to remain in the marriage, you can act to better protect yourself during the inevitable divorce.

Understand New York’s Divorce Laws

If you are beginning to think about divorce, first look at the divorce laws in the state. Every state has different regulations relating to residency, grounds, and other issues.

New York’s divorce laws include the following:

  • Fault and no-fault divorces are recognized
  • Fault grounds must be proved by the other spouse
  • Fault grounds include cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment, and adultery
  • No-fault divorces can be sought if the couple has been separated for one year or if there’s been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” for at least six months
  • The residency requirement is generally one or both spouses have lived in the state at least one year

Research Different Divorce Processes

All divorces are not the same in New York. Not only are the circumstances different in each relationship, but you also have options on how to proceed with the divorce.

There are three ways you can proceed in a divorce:

  • Litigation. Both spouses hire an attorney and take their differences before a judge who will determine the matters in your divorce.
  • Collaborative. Both spouses hire an attorney, and the four parties work together to create a mutually acceptable divorce agreement.
  • Mediation. Both spouses come together with a trained mediator, who is a neutral party. The mediator helps spouses find compromise and develop a divorce agreement.

There is no “best” way to divorce, only that you and your spouse work through the best process for your relationship.

Get Organized Financially

Evaluate your debt, income, and other financial elements to get a clear picture of where you and your spouse stand financially. Think about which assets and debts are truly yours, theirs, and combined. Look at bank, credit card, loan, retirement, and other account statements.

A few helpful financial steps can put you on firmer ground should you divorce:

  • Establish credit in your name
  • Pay off as much debt in your name as possible
  • Open a bank account in your name
  • Consider closing joint accounts
  • Save cash for potential expenses (like) housing and retaining an attorney
  • Gather proof of income for yourself and your spouse
  • Look at your credit report to understand your creditworthiness

Understanding where you, your spouse, and you two as a couple stand financially is crucial before filing for divorce. Once you file, your finances will be integral to your divorce agreement including child support, spousal support, asset distribution, and debt distribution.

Maintain Your Integrity

Intense emotions and divorce are inextricably tied. Hurt, anger, fear, and jealousy are just a few. Despite how you may feel, it is in your best interest to be careful about the things you say and do. Taking the higher road can help prevent you from acting in a way that could later be used against you.

Tips to maintain your integrity include the following:

  • Don’t vent about your relationship on social media
  • Don’t badmouth your spouse to your children
  • Invest time in self-care to help keep a clear and calm mind
  • Don’t be baited into conflict
  • Don’t rehash old fights
  • Keep the future and the big picture in mind

Not compromising your higher values is especially important if child custody is an issue in your case.

Determine Your New Life’s Budget

For however long you have been married, your financial lives were connected to one degree or another. As a single person, everything will change financially.

When creating your new budget, you should include the following considerations:

  • How much income do you make?
  • How much will you need for housing?
  • What are average utility and other house-related expenses?
  • Are their tuition or other education costs for you or your children?
  • Will you need spousal support?

Figure out your costs of living will be after the divorce so that you are better prepared when negotiating with your spouse.

Reflect on What You Want

Divorce should not be about being greedy or making the other spouse pay. It’s about what you need to start your new life. If you have children, it’s also about what they need. Imagine a best-case scenario, and then think about where you would be open to compromise. Outline what aspects are non-negotiable.

Talk to Experts

Real estate and financial experts can help you better appraise the value of real and other property. These experts can be especially useful in high-net-worth divorces. A child psychologist can help prepare your children and help them better deal with the split. A counselor can also help you understand your own feelings about the relationship and the divorce.

Consult with an Attorney

You don’t have to wait until you are ready to file to talk with legal counsel. At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, we have more than 75 years of collective experience handling even the most complex divorce cases. Our extensive background and commitment to compassionately represent the best interests of our clients can help you through all aspects of your divorce.

If divorce is potentially on your horizon, speak with one of our attorneys. Schedule a consultation using our online form or by calling our office at (845) 605-4330.

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