Now that 2016 is just around the corner, we are entering one of the busiest divorce seasons of the year. Historically, divorce filings surge on the first Monday in January, which will be Jan. 4 this year.
Why is January such a popular month for divorce filings? One reason is that people like to wait until after the holidays, especially when they have children. Unhappy couples often want to give their children one more holiday season where everybody can be together as a family – and that's understandable!
With Jan. 1st quickly approaching, you may be switching gears from holiday mode to "divorce" mode. In order to help you prepare for the big transition, check out our 2016 divorce checklist:
1. Get copies of your credit reports.
We recommend pulling your credit report and your spouse's if at all possible. This way, you can familiarize yourself with exactly which accounts you both have and which accounts are joint. Pull your credit report from all three bureaus, which provide one free credit report each year.
2. Close or convert joint accounts.
Once you identify all joint accounts, you want to either pay them off and close them or try and convert them to individual accounts. If you fail to do this and your spouse defaults, not only will the creditor go after you, it can ruin your credit.
3. Gather all of the financial documents.
Get copies of all of your financial accounts ASAP. We're talking about bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage loan documents, investments, retirement accounts, life insurance policies etc. Being organized is key to a smooth divorce.
4. Hire a new financial advisor.
If you have significant assets, you'll need a good financial advisor, but you don't want to use the same person that you used during your marriage. Instead, hire someone new that has not been used by either of your families in the past. You need someone who is 100% on your side.
5. Don't move out…yet.
If you have children with your spouse, don't pack your bags until you've discussed child custody with a divorce attorney. If you are hoping for custody, moving out and leaving the kids with your spouse sends a powerful message to the courts that your spouse is capable of taking care of them without you.
6. Don't let emotions get the best of you.
Did your spouse cheat on you? Or, did they blow your retirement at the horse track? Regardless of the reasons for your divorce, don't drag it out just to get back at them. If you refuse to consent to the divorce, you'll have to be separated for two years before the divorce can be granted, thereby prolonging the inevitable.