New Year’s Resolutions

Is Getting a Divorce on Your List? Plan for the worst and hope for the best…

If getting divorced is among your New Year’s resolutions, consider the following to mitigate anxiety, fear and depression caused by uncertainty in that process. Sleepless nights worrying about unanswered questions can be minimized when you better understand the process and have the tools to craft your plan.

Consulting an experienced family law attorney is an important first step in obtaining answers to your questions and understanding the divorce process.

Create an inventory that includes assets and debts; copy the source of the information and five years of income tax returns.

List of assets should include, but is not limited to:

  • residence (fair market value)
  • retirement accounts
  • other real property
  • defined benefit plans
  • mineral interests
  • IRA/SEP accounts
  • cash in financial institutions
  • motor vehicles
  • brokerage accounts
  • boats
  • stocks
  • airplanes
  • stock options
  • motor cycles
  • bonds
  • life insurance policies
  • 401K plans
  • antiques
  • business interests
  • artwork
  • patents
  • receivables
  • country club memberships
  • travel (frequent-flyer) award benefits

List of debts should include, but is not limited to:

  • mortgages
  • credit card debt
  • liens
  • IRS debt

Financial responsibilities are often delegated to one spouse. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to be unaware of their estate’s details. A family law attorney can suggest resources to help you gather information and once a petition for divorce is filed, this can be obtained through the "discovery" phase.

I encourage parties to pursue reconciliation with a good marriage counselor, if at all possible. A counselor that “fits both parties’ needs is ideal. Sometimes it takes several sessions to find an effective counselor. Unfortunately, many marriages deteriorate beyond repair due to addiction, infidelity or one party’s unwillingness to pursue counseling, thus making it all the more difficult to salvage a marriage. Divorce is a process requiring planning. Many clients exclaim with a sigh of relief after a consultation, “Good! I have a plan in place!" The plan might change over time – you might choose to remain married. Regardless, you need to know what your estate is worth, whichever path you choose.

"Knowledge is power"– Francis Bacon