Coming to the decision that it is time to seek a divorce can be difficult for any family. Before you commence the paperwork needed to start your divorce case, here are five tips to help you prepare your case.
- TAKE A REAL LOOK AT YOUR FINANCES
California is a community property state, meaning assets and debts accumulated and incurred during the marriage are part of the community estate and divided equally during the divorce. It is a good idea to look and understand where you stand financially, this can be accomplished by making a list of your assets and debts.
When doing so do not forget to list the debts you and your spouse have in your names alone as this can still be part of the community. For instance, when making your list make sure to include the credit cards that your spouse has in only their name, it will likely still be part of the community.
It is highly recommended to save statements for each account, i.e. checking, credit cards, auto loans, etc., so you readily have them available as they will eventually become part of your dissolution filing. All divorces in California require an exchange of financial disclosures, even if the case is uncontested.
- SEPARATING HOUSEHOLDS
Separating your households into two is difficult, especially when adding outside factors such as leases and mortgages. Before proceeding with filing a divorce really evaluate your options regarding who will be staying in the current residence. Take into consideration the rent/mortgage costs, name on the lease/mortgage, stability for children, etc.
- GATHER PROOF OF INCOME
As part of a divorce case there are forms that pertain to your income. It is beneficial to gather your documents that show your proof of income, such as three months of paystubs and copies of your last two years tax returns. It is also a good idea to make copies of your spouse’s income as well, in case this becomes a point of contention later in the case. Such as copies of their paystubs, tax returns or their profit and loss statements if they run their own business.
- OPEN A SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNT
If you do not have your own separate bank account, open one in anticipation of filing your divorce. This will assist you in being able to move your direct deposit into a separate account since you will be moving forward with ending your community estate.
- DETERMINE YOUR GOALS FOR CUSTODY AND VISITATION, IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN
When children are involved it is important to take into consideration what custody and visitation will look like. Mentally preparing for what your new normal will look like can assist in preparing your case, not all divorces have to be heavily contested legal battles over custody. It may be helpful to journal what is happening now, such as who takes the children to their doctor’s appointments, who picks up the kids from school or takes them to extra curriculars, like soccer practice? Keeping a journal of these events can give you a better picture of what a visitation schedule can work for your kids schedule and allow both parents to have quality time with the children.
By: Iris Gomez, Attorney at Contreras Law Firm