On the day you said “I do”, you thought it would be forever, til death do you part, right? Now, your wife just said the four words you really didn’t want to hear, “We need to talk”, and the “I do” has turned into a solid “I don’t”. Now, more than ever, you need to put emotion aside and think about your marriage as a legal contract and your divorce as a lawsuit.
The decisions you make now are going to play a huge role in determining your future financial stability, your relationships with your ex and your children, as well as legal parameters that you will have to follow for some time to come. How can you mitigate your risk and get through this in one piece?
There are three things you need to think about before you set foot in an attorney’s office. Most people show up for their initial consultation saying they want what’s “fair”. But, they can’t express specifically what they are looking for.
Get out a sheet of paper. (Yes, right now -- we’ll wait). It’s time to be fearless and brutally honest. Make three columns. In the first, make a list of everything you absolutely need as an outcome of your divorce. In the second, make a list of things that you want, but don’t necessarily need. Finally, in the third column, create a list of things you neither want or need, a list of things that you can let go of.
When you speak to your attorney, you’ll have a lot more clarity about what you want to fight or negotiate for. You’ll also gain some insights into your motivations, and that will shed some light on what is motivating your ex.
Forget the bouquets, flowery speeches, dance floor antics, and the romantic honeymoon. The day you got married, you signed a legal and binding contract. Fundamentally, your marriage was a business decision and it’s time to treat it like one.
Georgia law now governs the legal split of assets and parental responsibilities. You are dissolving a contract, so it’s important given the stakes that you approach key decisions from a business point of view, not an emotional one.
Talk to your attorney. Ask questions about what the law says and how it operates. If your attorney has knowledge from previous cases about what your judge likes and dislikes, find that out. Your focus is on making decisions with a clear and level head so that what you said you wanted to fight for can be achieved. Remember: it’s all business when it comes to divorce.
Now is the time to also take a fearless look at your finances. You can save some time and money with your attorney by coming prepared with a complete financial picture. That way, your attorney can minimize the amount of time spent tracking down your financial information and can focus on getting your spouse’s as well as hard to find information on your side.
Get your credit report. Organize a file with several years of back tax statements, financial statements from banks and any asset management companies, as well as any business or household expense account listings.
Also, make sure that you begin the process of getting bank accounts that belong to you and you alone. Your attorney can guide you through the process of divesting any joint accounts you may have. All of your financial information is going to be required by the court, so don’t try to hide anything and come prepared to your initial consultation with as complete a financial picture as you can gather.
While we all wish for an amicable divorce, the truth is that some divorces are ugly. Regardless, you need a team of people that will offer support and an attorney that can guide you through this minefield. You’re going to be making some of the most important (and difficult) financial and custodial decisions of your life in this process, so make sure you are taking care of yourself and choose your attorney wisely.
A good attorney can help bring other key people to your support team, such as a forensic accounting specialist to track down hidden assets, or a tax specialist who can help you make decisions to minimize liability down the road.
If you are in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, or live in the Atlanta metro area, Family Matters Law Group is ready to fight for your children and your assets. We know how important it is to be all business when it comes to divorce and we’re ready to hear your story. Contact us today for an initial consultation.