Everything You Need for Filing Divorce – A Complete Checklist (2024)

Everything You Need for Filing Divorce - A Complete Checklist (2024)

Going through a divorce can feel like you’re lost in a maze. There are many documents to gather, accounts to separate, and papers to file – it’s enough to make your head spin! 

Having a complete checklist helps you navigate this transition with clarity and confidence. Follow these steps, and you’ll be logistically and emotionally prepared for the next phase of your life’s journey.

Gather Important Documents

The first step is gathering all the essential paperwork. Having organized financial records makes the divorce process smoother and can help you negotiate a fair settlement.

You’ll want to collect tax returns, bank statements, mortgage information, credit card statements, retirement account info, and anything related to assets, debts, and income for you and your spouse. Make copies of the last 3-5 years’ worth.

Getting your financial house in order may feel tedious, but it gives you clarity and control. You must avoid scrambling to find a key document when your attorney requests it.

Many of our clients admit they initially feel overwhelmed facing this task. We get it! That’s why we’re here to help you every step of the way. We can request specific documents for you and ensure everything is in order.

Having organized finances also helps you…

Make Financial Preparations

Now that you see the whole financial picture, you can plan for your new future.

Open your personal bank account if you still need to get one. Ensure you have access to cash flow and aren’t relying solely on joint accounts.

Review your living expenses and create a realistic budget. Your finances are about to change, so forecast how much you’ll need for housing, food, transportation, and other necessities.

Consult with a financial advisor or divorce financial analyst. An expert can help you strategically divide assets and optimize taxes, retirement funds, investments, and more. Don’t leave money on the table.

Cancel any joint credit cards, streaming services, gym memberships, etc. Sever financial ties were prudent. Open new individual accounts as needed.

Financial preparations give you a solid foundation from which to…

Make Living Arrangements

Another big change divorce brings is determining where each spouse will live after separation.

If you have kids, think about custody arrangements. Will you have 50/50 custody? What schedule for switching homes will cause minimal disruption? How close do you want to live with each other?

Decide who will move out and when. This depends on factors like who owns the home, income levels, and what’s best for children.

If you’re the one moving, start hunting for a new place. Enlist help from friends or family if needed. Downsizing may be required as you adjust to single-income living.

Where you live impacts all areas of life – commute, neighborhood, space needs, etc. Don’t let the magnitude of this decision overwhelm you. We can offer guidance so you can make the right housing moves.

With your finances squared away and your new living situation secured, it’s time to…

Update Important Information

When your marital status changes, you need to update accounts and policies. Change beneficiaries on your will retirement accounts, etc. Remove your spouse if prudent.

Similarly, update power of attorney, medical proxy, and legal documents, giving your spouse authority over you. 

Notify your bank and lenders about the divorce. Adjust any auto-pay bills as needed. Inform healthcare providers so your medical information and bills are correct.

Update your driver’s license, tax returns, and other ID documents with your new name and address. Forward mail if you move out of the marital home. File a change of address form with the post office.

Updating this information protects you and prevents hassles down the road. But don’t worry about tackling it alone. Your attorney can guide you on precisely what needs to be changed.

Speaking of attorneys, let’s discuss…

Work With Your Lawyer

Hiring an experienced divorce attorney is crucial. Navigating the maze of legal issues is daunting without a guide.

Provide your lawyer with all the documentation you’ve gathered. Be organized and transparent, so they have what’s needed to advise you.

Follow your attorney’s counsel every step of the way. They know the process inside and out and have your best interests at heart.

Be proactive in communicating with your lawyer. Ask questions if you need help understanding something. Make sure you’re aligned on strategy.

Trust in your attorney. They’ve shepherded many clients through divorce. If they make a recommendation, there’s good reason behind it. Collaborating with a lawyer significantly eases your stress. You handle the emotional side; let them take the legal side.

Lastly, amidst all the logistics, remember to…

Take Care of Yourself

Divorce takes a toll mentally and physically. Make self-care a priority. Lean on your support system. Talk openly with close friends and family. Don’t isolate yourself.

Consider counseling to help process the grief and upheaval. A therapist provides an unbiased listening ear.

Practice stress management through exercise, meditation, journaling, or other outlets that work for you. Get plenty of rest. Follow a healthy diet. Take time off work if needed. Be gentle with yourself.

Don’t neglect your well-being. You’ll need strength for the road ahead. With tender, loving care, you’ll make it through.

Contact a Central New Jersey Divorce Attorney Today

The experienced family law attorneys at Netsquire are here to help guide you through the divorce process. Their team can review your situation, ensure you have all the required documents, and work with you to achieve the best possible outcome. You don’t need to tackle this alone – they’re available to help every step of the way.

Visit their firm today at https://www.centraljerseyfamilylaw.com/ to schedule an initial consultation. 

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