Considering divorce? Critical first steps to take
Skilled Franklin divorce lawyer explains how to prioritize the process and why it matters
Divorce usually blindsides you. Even if you were the one who made the decision to divorce after months or even years of deliberation, it’s still an emotionally devastating decision. You may be reeling from the decision and have a lot of questions, and that can make it hard for you to focus on what you need to do next to protect yourself and your family. Making wrong moves during your divorce process, even in the earliest stages, can result in big losses for your future.
The very first thing you should do once you decide to divorce or once you hear from your spouse that he or she wants a divorce is to call an experienced divorce attorney. I’m Judy A. Oxford, a Franklin divorce lawyer, and I help the people who call me understand their legal rights, their options, and what’s at stake in their divorce. For example, for those thinking about moving out, I let them know that doing so could put their claims to the home at risk. I urge people to call me even if they are thinking of divorce or suspect that their spouse is thinking of divorce. Determining a strategy as early as possible will put you in a better position to protect your interests.
If you have the time, you should collect some critical information to bring to your attorney before you meet for the first time. However, if you are unprepared, maybe because your spouse announced a desire for divorce and you weren’t expecting it, you should collect the information as soon after consulting with your attorney as you can. The information you will need includes:
- Income information
- Bank statements and credit card statements
- Statements for pensions and other retirement accounts
- Information about stocks, bonds, and other investments
- Balances for mortgage, car loans, personal loans, or other loans
- Information about real estate owned, including value
- Information about any vehicles owned, including value
- Information about other debts
- Inventory of personal property with a value attached
If you or your spouse own a business together or separately, you will also need to provide information about it. When my clients bring me this information, I review it to give them a better idea of what a resolution of their divorce will look like and what strategies we may need to use to achieve their goals. I may need to collect additional evidence or work with experts, and I can let clients know early in the process what will be necessary. If you have children, you will also need to discuss creating a temporary shared parenting plan and temporary child support or family support. Divorce can take months to resolve even in the best circumstances, and you need to have at least a temporary resolution to these issues while you wait for a final judgment.
Finally, if there is any threat to your safety, such as if you are suffering from physical violence or if your spouse is a drug addict or alcoholic, you may need to seek a protective order. I help my clients get these orders as quickly as possible in the process so they can focus on other aspects of the divorce and begin rebuilding their lives with less fear.
Divorce can seem overwhelming, but it is important that you prioritize what you need to do so that you can protect yourself and give yourself the best chance of getting the best possible outcome for your divorce. Call me, Judy A. Oxford attorney at law, at my office at (615) 791-8511 to discuss your options. You can also fill out the secure online form to schedule a free consultation.