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4 Things You Need to Have on your Pre Divorce Checklist

By: Z Family Law


Did you know that between 40-50% of US marriages end in divorce today? 

No matter the circumstances, ending a marriage can be emotionally and logistically challenging — but it can also be the first chapter in your new beginning. And while navigating divorce is undeniably complex, taking specific steps to plan for what lies ahead can help make the process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved. 

One of the most important steps you can take? Getting organized and preparing to take action during the pre-divorce stage, which is essential to starting your new chapter off right and ensuring your divorce is managed properly from beginning to end. This is where a pre-divorce checklist comes in handy.

Here are four items to consider when putting together your plan.

1. Gather Important Financial Documents, Including Bank Statements, Credit Card Bills, Mortgage Information, and Assets.

When prepping for a divorce, you’ll need access to all of your financial information so you can list everything you own and owe before proceedings begin. Think bank statements, credit card bills, investment accounts, loan documents, and mortgage paperwork.

Pro Tip: We recommend keeping everything in one place so you can easily find information at a moment’s notice.  

When making decisions, you should also consider other money matters or investments related to your marriage, from assets like college savings accounts, to governing documents like prenuptial agreements.

This information should include but not be limited to the following:

  • Recent bank and credit card statements
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Retirement account
  • Mortgages or other loans
  • Any existing debt

If you don't document all your assets ahead of time, it can lead to costly mistakes and misunderstandings, drag out your case, or even result in disagreements between both parties.


2. Have an Open and Honest Conversation With Your Spouse About Finances. 

Once you’ve gathered all your documentation, it’s time to have an honest conversation with your spouse about the financial realities that will shape your divorce proceedings and eventual outcome. Both sides need to know the source(s) of shared income, how much debt there is, and what assets are owned together — so there are no surprises down the line. While financially-driven conversations are never easy, organizing your thoughts beforehand, and focusing on keeping your composure at all costs can make a world of difference.


3. Meet With a Lawyer to Discuss Your Legal Options. 

Divorce is stressful, and having an experienced legal advisor to guide you through the process is invaluable. Even if you expect your divorce to be amicable, we recommend seeking legal advice from a lawyer focused exclusively on divorce and family law before you officially file. A consultation with qualified counsel will help you understand the local divorce laws, clarify what to expect during the process, and explain anything else you need to know about filing your paperwork. An attorney can also provide advice on other pre-divorce matters, from postnuptial agreements, to parenting plans and custody arrangements, spousal support (alimony), and division of traditional and nontraditional assets.

If you choose not to meet with a lawyer to discuss your options, there could be costly consequences, such as agreeing to terms that are not beneficial for your finances, or are not in the best interest of your children. 


Wondering what you need to do to prepare for an initial meeting with an attorney? Check out our free webinar, Preparing for your Divorce Initial Case Assessment, for guidance.


4. Get Started On Creating or Updating Your Estate Plan. 

Updating your estate plan is an integral part of pre-divorce preparation because it allows you to officially document your wishes before the divorce is finalized. 

Wondering what an estate plan entails? A list of what you own and direction around what will happen to your belongings when you die, made in accordance with Maryland's divorce and pre-divorce laws.

An estate plan can include a variety of documents, such as a will or trust, power of attorney, prenuptial agreements, and guardianship plans for minor children.

If couples don’t create or update an estate plan, they might not have a say in what happens to their money and belongings upon death. This means that in the event of the death of one or both parties, the surviving spouse may not be able to access certain assets that are intended for them (or vice versa - your ex-spouse may be able to access assets you don’t want them to have).



Why wait another minute before doing what's best for your future? 
At Z Family Law in Rockville, Maryland, our team of qualified attorneys is here to help guide you through the divorce process from start to finish and provide sound legal advice tailored to your distinct situation.
Contact us today to get started and take charge of your new beginning.

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