This January, instead of the usual new year’s resolution to diet or exercise, you may have something much more serious on your mind. You may be contemplating or already in the midst of a divorce. Not only were the holidays a challenge, but now you’re facing a year of uncertainty.
One way to reduce stress is to get organized to prepare for the tasks ahead. Since January is national “Get Organized” Month, let this prompt you to take steps to put yourself in control of the process. To help, we offer this “checklist” for divorce in Ohio. Each item is important, so the order of priority depends on your situation. It may be best to work on several of these tasks simultaneously.
List Sources of Income
A large part of the divorce process involves the assessment and allocation of finances. You should plan to make written lists rather than mental notes, and try to include information that may be needed for verification. For instance, when listing employment, make note of the employer’s name, address, and length of time employed. It is a good idea to list income sources for the past three years.
In addition to you and your spouse’s regular salary, be sure to include overtime, bonuses, and other income such as unemployment or disability payments. You may also have income from investments or side jobs. While you are reviewing your income, plan to set aside amounts for extra expenses such as legal fees and separate living arrangements.
Take Inventory of Assets
While you are listing the property that you own, make notes about whether the property is something you had before you got married or acquired as a family gift or inheritance. These items may be considered your separate individual property that will not need to be shared with your ex.
Remember that your asset list should include all types of property, from real estate, bank accounts, and retirement funds to cars and furniture. Write down account numbers and approximate values for major assets. Also, think about which items are most important to you and which items you would be willing to give up. For instance, you might be willing to let your ex have the leather sofa if you can keep the artwork in the dining room.
Consider All of Your Debts
During the divorce process, you will need to allocate all debts as well as assets. To prepare, make a list of all debts with account numbers and the amount that remains to be paid. This includes credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, vehicle loans, and money you may have borrowed from family or friends.
List the Issues You Will Need to Resolve
Your divorce attorney could help you compile a list of all the issues you will need to consider and resolve during the divorce process. While it is often most effective for couples to reach an agreement on these issues outside of court, if they are unable to negotiate successfully then a judge will make the decisions. Couples generally need to consider:
- How to divide assets
- Whether one spouse will pay support, and if so, how much and for how long
- How to divide debts
- Issues related to children (custody, parenting time, support, insurance, school, etc.)
- Whether to seek separation, dissolution, or divorce
A dissolution is similar to a no-fault divorce, and the process eliminates many of the delays and expenses associated with divorce. However, parties must reach an agreement on all issues before filing, so they must be willing to negotiate fairly.
Find the Right Attorney to Meet Your Needs
An attorney experienced in handling divorce and dissolution in Ohio can assist with many preparatory steps as well as negotiating on your behalf during the process. If your soon-to-be-ex is a bully who is unlikely to compromise, then you may want to look for a lawyer who is used to fighting every issue in court. If you think your spouse may be willing to negotiate to stay out of court, then an attorney who handles collaborative divorce would be a better choice.
Take Care of Yourself
The mental, emotional, and physical strain of the divorce process can quickly take its toll on your health. Remember to make time for your own needs and the needs of your family. Find someone you can talk to, do not be shy about seeking counseling. Keep up with exercise routines and favorite rituals, or create new ones. The divorce may be a big part of your life at the moment, but it is not the only part. Keep looking ahead toward your future goals.
An Experienced Legal Advisor Can Make the Process Much Easier
Divorce can be overwhelming. The experienced divorce attorneys at Weis Law Group understand how to guide you through the process to reach your best life on the other side. Contact us now for a confidential consultation to learn how we can help you move forward.