Steps To Take Before Asking For A Divorce

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2021, the national marriage rate was 14.9 per 1,000 women, while the divorce rate was 6.9 per 1,000. In Tennessee, the divorce rate was 8.5 women in every 1,000. This means that in the state of Tennessee, there were 1.6 more divorces per 1,000 women aged 15 and over than the national rate that year. Getting a divorce, no matter what the reason, and even when both parties are agreeable to it, is nonetheless an onerous process that can also be highly emotional. Before filing a petition with the court to begin divorce proceedings, there are several steps to take and things to do to prepare. A Tennessee divorce lawyer at Shepherd and Long, PC may be able to help you determine the steps to take before asking for a divorce. Call our office (865) 982-8060 today for more information or to schedule your private consultation.

Research and Speak to an Attorney

An attorney can advise a spouse of their best options for coming to an agreeable arrangement for marriage dissolution in the most cost- and time-effective way. The ultimate goal of divorce planning is to end a marriage, and to do so while securing the best interests of each party. 

An attorney can be a legal advisor to their client and discuss with them what the benefits and pitfalls are of litigation. An attorney may also offer alternative methods for divorce, such as mediation, that do not require lengthy court proceedings. When going to court is necessary, an attorney will be prepared and knowledgeable about what to do to get the most favorable outcome for their client. For more information and resources on the most appropriate methods and means for divorce for your particular situation, you are welcome to connect with a Tennessee divorce attorney at Shepherd and Long, PC.

Income and Budget 

Money often plays a substantial role in a divorce. This includes not only assets but also debts. Understanding the full scope of your finances can help you get a better picture of what a reasonable distribution will likely be. Divorcing spouses will likely have both personal property and marital property. In certain instances, defining the difference between the two is clear. At other times, it can be challenging to make a distinction. A general best practice is to gather all information related to both shared and personal assets. Information such as the value of an asset when it was purchased versus how much it is currently worth, how the asset was purchased, and when the purchase took place, are all important. Likewise, understanding the depths of your debt and which debts are yours alone and which are shared is critical.

Calculate Income Before Divorce

Whether you are self-employed, an hourly employee, or salaried, it is essential to understand what your income is. Knowing your spouse’s income may also be advantageous. If you are unable to accurately estimate your spouse’s income, your attorney can play a vital role in obtaining verifiable information during discovery.

Put Together a New Budget for After Divorce

Divorce can often affect individuals significantly once they become single again. In many cases at least one party will have their income and access to funds reduced, so adjusting to this new reality can be difficult. Putting a budget in place for how to manage a new household on a reduced budget after the divorce has concluded can help individuals to prepare themselves for a fresh start and new life.

Credit and Accounts

Many of the steps to take before asking for a divorce involve separating previously shared habits, assets, and expenses in order to set each of the former spouses up for success in their post-divorce future. Once you have identified your overall pre-divorce income and budget, it is important to take steps to create independent access to credit and separate responsibility for debt.

Establish a Credit Score

If credit is only linked to a former spouse, or if all finances were based on a joint income, being a single income person with limited credit can make it difficult to get loans. Opening up a credit card and only using it sparingly while also paying it off immediately can help one establish a solid credit score. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains, an individual’s credit score can have a significant impact on their finances.

Open New Accounts

Many married couples operate with shared bank accounts. When divorce happens, it is imperative to divide the wealth that is in these accounts. If there is any fear that one party may try to take all of the money in a shared account, proactive steps should be taken promptly. Opening up a new personal account and transferring half of the funds from the shared account may be necessary. Then, as money is used in this newly established account, make sure to keep track of how any money is spent and what it was used for. This information will be helpful during settlement negotiations. 

Cancel Joint Credit

Similar to opening new bank accounts, closing joint credit accounts stops a spouse from potentially running up debts. Removing yourself from joint credit accounts reduces the chance that you will be held responsible for helping to repay those debts.

Unless a Home Is Unsafe, Do Not Move

There are several reasons why it can be detrimental to move during a divorce. One of the most important is that moving could reduce the relocated party’s rights to the formerly shared home. On the other hand, it is important to continue making the mortgage payments as scheduled if that was something you did prior to your divorce. Failure to continue to pay could also affect property distribution decisions. 

Put Your Best Foot Forward

The divorcing spouses’ lives and personal habits are often put on display and scrutinized during divorce proceedings. Maintaining a courteous and cooperative demeanor, refraining from combative or vindictive behavior, and putting one’s best foot forward can help to create a generally favorable impression with the court. Alternatively, misconduct could jeopardize financial outcomes as well as child custody determinations.

Call a Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Today

Divorce is rarely easy or fast. A decision to divorce is also not one that typically comes about for no reason, or without mindful consideration. Following these steps to take before asking for a divorce can help to make a stressful process go more smoothly for all involved. If you have questions about preparing for divorce, an attorney at Shepherd and Long, PC may be able to answer your questions. Schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney by calling (865) 982-8060 today.