For most couples, divorce doesn’t merely happen without warning. You see the signs and know your relationship is deteriorating. If you are seeing these signs and have a feeling that your marriage is nearing its end, now is the time to take steps to plan for your divorce and secure your future. One of the most vital things you should do if you are ready to call it quits is to schedule a consultation with a Pennsylvania divorce attorney who will advocate for you and your best interests. Whether you anticipate a difficult and emotional divorce or even a collaborative divorce, you need an experienced attorney on your side.
Gather Important Documents
A divorce is a legal process and, as such, will rely heavily on the evidence, including many different types of documents. Your divorce can potentially take less time and be less expensive if you have the necessary documents on-hand. Even when there is no pressure or time limit, it can be hard to find relevant documents you might need. If possible, gather and safely store all of the following documents before you file for divorce:
- Financial account records
- Phone records
- Car notes
- Credit card statements
- Other bills
- Income tax returns from at least the past few years
- Employment records
- Loan statements
- Investment account statements
- Pension plan information
- Retirement savings account statements
- Children’s bank accounts
- Debt records
- Wills and trust agreements
- Social Security statements
- School records for your children
- Medical records
- Life insurance policies
- Business records if either one of you has a business
If you and your spouse only share one copy of these documents, be sure to make photocopies or even digital copies. If any of these documents are located online in a shared account, save them to your personal computer or another digital storage device. Since some spouses do not receive the news of a pending divorce well, you never know what they might to do your shared accounts or your shared account access. Taking these steps now will prevent future headaches and could help you meet your goals in your divorce.
Consider Custody Arrangements
Divorce and changes in their living situation can be extremely challenging for children of all ages. If you share children with your spouse, you will want to start thinking about your goals for custody as soon as you know a divorce could be pending. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about sharing custody, a family court will be forced to come up with a solution for you. Most parents would rather determine their own custody arrangement and work with their spouse and their divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania to craft a mutually beneficial custody agreement that can be approved by the court.
Be aware that unless there are unusual circumstances, most spouses will share custody of their children. Without a situation like constant travel or a history of abuse, both spouses should anticipate a shared custody agreement once the divorce is finalized. Now is the time for each spouse to consider several different factors to come up with an ideal custody agreement. These factors include:
- Work schedules
- Your children’s school schedule
- Your children’s extra-curricular activity schedule
- Your other obligations
- The desires of your children, depending on their age
Complete Any Necessary Purchases or Sales
If your car is running on its last leg, you’ve been procrastinating about selling your rental property, or your house needs a new garage door, now is the time to complete these transactions. Most judges will issue an order at the initiation of the divorce, preventing you or your spouse from buying, selling, disposing of, or otherwise encumbering any of your marital property.
Depending on how long your divorce takes, you could be waiting several months or even more than a year to make any purchases or sales that need to be completed. Make these transactions now, but be sure to keep a record of them. Store this record with your other important documents for your pending divorce. You must be able to justify your sales or purchases. If it appears to a judge that you were living it up in anticipation of your divorce or making extravagant purchases for your new romantic interest, you could be required to repay your spouse for these purchases.
Determine Where You Will Live
Your decisions about where you will live during your pending divorce can impact the final outcome of your divorce. While it may not be the best situation to continue to live with a soon-to-be-ex, it may not work out well for you if you leave your residence and children and move out. Now is the time to really think through what your goals are for your living situation both before and after your divorce is finalized. Do you want to stay in the same house? Will your spouse want to move out? Could you continue to share the marital home until the divorce is finalized? Do you and your spouse have the income to support two households while the divorce is pending in court? There are many questions to consider, and consulting with a divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania can help you come up with the answers to some of them and maybe even bring some to your attention that you did not previously consider.
Call a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Finally, one of the most important steps you can take if divorce is on the horizon for your marriage is to call a Pennsylvania divorce attorney sooner rather than later. The sooner you hire an attorney to protect your interests, the better you will feel, and the higher the chance you will have at receiving a fair divorce settlement. The farther in advance you can plan for your divorce and all of its ins and outs, the more peace of mind you could have going into the process.
Reach out to Petrelli Previtera, LLC today at (215) 523-6900, chat with a live agent, or schedule your consultation online.