Are you planning on filing for divorce after the holidays? If so, you have plenty of company. Historically, January is the busiest month for divorce filings across the nation. In contrast, December is the time of year when many (but not all) couples hold off on filing for divorce so they can get through the holidays without dampening the “holiday cheer” or having to handle court documents while entertaining friends and family.
If you’re going to file for divorce after January 1st, it will help if you start preparing in the month of December. This way, once you do start the divorce process, you’ll have a lot of the legwork out of the way. Here are four tips to help get the ball rolling before the New Year:
1. Run your credit report. Contact the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and request a free copy of your credit report. Examine these printouts to see which accounts are open, how much you owe, and which accounts are “joint.” You will need this information when deciding how to divide debts. You also need to know which accounts are joint so you can put the accounts in one spouse’s name alone, or pay them off and close them. The goal is to cut the financial ties to your spouse so you can get a fresh start.
2. Copy all of the financial documents. As a part of the divorce, you’ll need to gather and make copies of all important financial documents. This includes credit card statements, medical bills, auto loans, insurance policies, mortgage papers, investments, retirement accounts, and of course tax returns.
3. Educate yourself on Pennsylvania’s divorce laws. Knowledge is power and divorce is no exception. During the month of December, take this time to research Pennsylvania’s divorce laws as they pertain to asset and debt division, spousal support, child support and child custody. We also recommend researching the difference between fault and no-fault divorce in Pennsylvania.
4. Create a post-divorce budget. The more prepared you are for divorce, the better. One way to prepare yourself is to create a post-divorce budget. Take into consideration housing, utilities, health insurance, your auto loan (where applicable), auto insurance, food, credit card bills, student loans, etc. Also, take child support and spousal support into consideration. As far as child support is concerned, will you be receiving or paying it? If so, how much? To learn more about calculating child support in Pennsylvania, click here. Unlike child support, spousal support is not guaranteed, but be sure to ask your divorce lawyer if spousal support will be a factor in your divorce.