5 Things You Need to Do Before Filing for Divorce in NJ
Whether you and your spouse are in the early stages of a relationship, or you’ve been married for decades, divorce is almost always a difficult and emotional decision. In order to make the process as easy as possible, it’s important to be prepared with all the necessary steps. Being proactive can be especially helpful in the unfortunate circumstance that the divorce proceedings become contentious. The following are 7 things you should do before filing for divorce in New Jersey in order to make this difficult process as smooth as possible.
1. Consult with a Good Divorce Lawyer
If you are beginning to consider filing for divorce, one of the first things you should do is consult with a good family law attorney or divorce lawyer. Even if you believe your separating partner will be agreeable, consulting with an NJ divorce attorney will ensure that you are doing all parts of the process correctly.
For example, there are several steps that you will need to take to formally file for divorce in New Jersey. If you are unsure about what these steps are, or how to complete the process properly, it is best to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the process. You should also make sure that your divorce meets all of New Jersey’s state requirements, including the grounds for divorce circumstances.
2. Ensure Your Finances Are in Order
Before you file for divorce, there are a few things you should do to ensure your finances are in order. First, make sure you have a written agreement with your spouse over your separate property and the division of any joined assets. If you don’t have such an agreement, you and your separating spouse should collaboratively draft one. If you don’t want to take on any legal documents yourself, you can also have your divorce attorney draft it for you.
Consider Your Debt
Next, you should review any debt you may have by yourself and with your separating partner. If one of you is carrying a heavy amount of debt, the other may be able to claim some or all of it.
Create A Plan
Finally, you should create a budget or financial plan. This way, you can account for your current assets and liabilities and determine how they may look after the divorce. Even if your post-divorce financial situation looks a bit bleak, having a plan will at least put you in a position of preparedness for the future.
3. Establish Your Own Credit
This is one of the most overlooked steps that individuals miss while preparing for divorce, and it can be extremely detrimental. Living with a spouse and making all or most large purchases together can eliminate the need for individual credit – that is, until separation occurs.
Beginning to establish your own credit prior to filing for divorce can help set you up for the future. It can also be important for divorce proceedings if your separating partner tries to claim that you are financially motivated in your divorce filing. The state of New Jersey does not recognize financial inequality as viable grounds for divorce. Establish your own separate bank account and apply for one or two credit cards in your own name. These small steps will pay dividends once you are financially independent after your divorce is finalized.
4. Gather Supporting Documents & Information
While divorce litigation can often be avoided with mediation, you should prepare yourself for all possible scenarios. Should your divorce end up in court, having the right pieces of information prepared in advance can save you from being caught off-guard.
Documents & Information to Prepare
Documentation for all owned real estate property (joint and separate)
Records of any previously agreed upon prenuptial agreement(s)
Physical or digital copies of any prepared wills
Copies of your and your separating spouse’s credit reports (in case of alimony)
Details of your and your separating spouse’s education and work history
Some of these documents may seem unnecessary, and preparing some of these items may feel strange or wrong in the moment, but the best way to avoid any surprise circumstances is to be prepared with extensive documentation. It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and a competent NJ Divorce Lawyer can help you through the document-gathering process.
5. Decide on Your Living Situation
Waiting until the last minute to make large decisions is never good, and this is especially true for deciding on your post-divorce living accommodations. For example, are you going to stay in your current residence? If so, where is your separating spouse going to live? What if both of you want to leave your current residence due to the difficulty of being surrounded by past traumas or memories? You should have this discussion with your separating partner sooner rather than later – even if it may seem a bit premature to talk about before actually filing for divorce.
What About Pets? What About Children?
If you and your separating spouse have pets or children together, they can further complicate the situation. It is even more important to start this discussion early if pets or children are involved, as they will be largely affected by any changes to the living situation. There are many viable options in all of these situations, but the important part is to explore them well in advance of filing for divorce – especially if large-scale changes will affect more than just you and your separating spouse.
Now You’re Prepared & Ready to File
While divorce is often a last resort for most struggling marriages, one spouse expressing desire to file can still come as a surprise to the other. By doing these 5 things in advance of filing for divorce, you can ensure that you are prepared to take on the divorce process. The most important proactive step on this list is to hire a top New Jersey divorce lawyer to guide you and help you make the necessary preparations prior to setting the divorce process in motion.
Hiring A Top Family Law Attorney in New Jersey
If you are local to the New York City or Northern New Jersey regions, you have the highly capable team of NJ family law experts at Sanvenero & Cittadino right in your backyard. We will help you prepare for the divorce process and work diligently to advocate for you. Contact our legal experts today and schedule your no-obligation consultation.