Divorce inevitably results in a major life transition for all parties involved. Whether or not both spouses wish to end their marriage, divorce presents changes in family structure, time spent with children and financial resources. During a divorce, decisions need to be made about the most precious and important aspects of an individual’s life while they navigate the intense emotional effects of materially altering the way they may have envisioned their future. In order to protect yourself during a divorce, I advise my clients that the best way to make those decisions is to arm themselves with information so that they become informed consumers. I ask them to gather their financial information, including account statements and tax returns, think about what they want as they transition to life after divorce and what matters most to them as we begin to discuss the issues associated with dissolving their marriage. There are terms that are foreign, processes that are new and decisions that once made can change their lives forever.
The divorce process in New Jersey is focused on settlement- keeping as much control as possible with the spouses themselves who arguably know what is best for themselves, their children and their families. Many litigants turn to alternate dispute resolution means, such as mediation or collaborative divorce, to resolve the issues associated with dissolving their marriage. These processes allow for more creativity in settlement and more communication about the specifics of each issue. In cases that involve more complexity or discord, parent coordinators who help facilitate decisions regarding the children are brought in to manage parents even after the divorce has ended.
While divorce does create change, that change does not have to be for the worse. Surrounding yourself with trained professionals who can help navigate the process, the court system and help educate you while you move through the divorce will help ensure a smoother transition into the next chapter.
Documents to gather if you’re thinking about a divorce
- Tax returns (previous 3 years’ worth)
- W-2s, 1099s or other payroll documents (previous 3 years’ worth)
- Past 3 to 5 pay stubs for the current year to document earnings to date as well as future income
- Most recent account statements for all bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts
- Most recent statement for all credit cards
- Most recent statement for any properties you won or have mortgaged
- Itemized list of monthly expenses