Considering Divorce? Here’s Where to Start

You’ve spent night after night lying awake and saying to yourself, “It’s over.” You even find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re so tired and keep thinking, “Where do I start?”

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you’re facing the emotional and potentially volatile process of ending a marriage. Even when you’re confident that you’re making the right decision, you will feel sad, tired, and even intimidated. At times like these, it’s helpful to gather your thoughts and create an action plan that includes telling your spouse and the children and checking your financial resources and options.

Tell Your Spouse

The first thing to do is tell your spouse, ideally in a private setting and after the kids have gone to bed. Be honest and open but respectful about why you want the divorce and make sure they understand that your decision is final. That way you can progress more quickly to the subjects of child care and temporary living arrangements.

If you live in fear of domestic violence and fear for your safety or that of your children, make alternative living arrangements first and have this conversation in a public area, ideally with family or close friends nearby.

Tell the Children

Ask any divorced parent and they will tell you that this is the hardest part. Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to agree on how to tell the children about the divorce and emphasize together that both parents will continue to love and be there for them. Remind them that the divorce is not their fault and that neither parent is leaving them. It can also be beneficial to arrange for them to see a counselor who specializes in helping children through divorce.

Review Joint Assets and Debts

It’s essential that you have an accurate picture of your assets, liabilities, and overall financial situation. After collecting and making copies of bank statements, mortgages, tax returns, insurance policies, and other financial documentation, use Excel or another spreadsheet software to compile a basic balance sheet of marital assets and debts.

If your spouse was the one responsible for managing marital finances and you believe that they may be concealing money or assets, keep copies of all documentation in a safe place. You may need to have it reviewed by a forensic accountant at a later date.

Create a Property Inventory

California is a community property state, meaning that in general, all money earned and property acquired during the marriage are seen as belonging to both spouses equally. Likewise, all debts incurred are joint debts. Separate property, on the other hand, consists of all assets and liabilities each spouse owned prior to the marriage, after a legal separation, or received as a gift or inheritance from a third party.

Once you have identified which property is separate and which one belongs to the martial estate, collect and copy invoices, receipts, and other documentation that confirms the value of the latter.

Consider Your Earning Potential

If you are a stay at home parent or only worked part-time after the children were born, you may require spousal support until you acquire marketable skills that can sustain gainful employment. Look into the cost of training and / or further education.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney

At Entrust Legal, we help you answer the all-important question of “What do I do now?” With our extensive background in California family law and ability to apply it to your unique situation, we will help you plan your next steps and move forward. We understand that this may be one of the most difficult periods in your life and we will be your ally and legal advocate until you come out stronger at the end of the process. To schedule a confidential consultation, please contact us.

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Entrust Legal

Christine focuses her practice on helping families and couples in a range of family law and family formation matters, including child custody and support, spousal support (alimony), dissolution of marriage (divorce), legal separation, division of property, and assisted reproduction.

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