Many people wait until after the holidays to move forward with their divorces –and that’s completely understandable. Many don’t want to disrupt family traditions for their children. Some welcome the distraction offered by the hustle and bustle of the season. Plus, of course, others want to avoid the types of discussions that always seem to surface whenever and wherever relatives get together.
Interestingly, January has always been known in legal circles as Divorce month, because by statistics January is the month when most divorces are filed. Obviously, turning the page towards a New Year inspires a fresh start –and that’s completely understandable. There's many a New Years resolution that encompasses divorce. If you’re headed in that direction, it makes sense to spend a little time this month planning ahead. You can do so discreetly, and then you'll know that you’ll truly be ready to start the New Year on the right foot.
To help get you begin, here are a few things you can do now to help make the divorce process smoother in 2012:
Start collecting financial documents. Watch out in the mail for year-end statements from banks, credit card companies, etc. Preparing for divorce requires gathering all the relevant documents related to your bank and brokerage accounts, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Once you have collected them, make copies, and take them to a trusted friend/family member, or use a safe deposit box that your spouse can’t access.
2. Check your credit report. While you’re gathering your financial records, keep a careful eye on your credit card statements, and if you haven’t already done so, request a copy of your credit report. Once you have the report, monitor your score carefully so you’ll be the first to know if any unusual activity occurs. For example, is your spouse using your joint credit cards to buy gifts for someone unexpected this holiday season?
3. Research divorce professionals in your area. If you want to ensure the best possible outcome for your divorce, take the time to build a relationship with a qualified family law attorney and get all your questions answered. Many people are afraid to seek out an attorney if they're not fully convinced they want to proceed with a divorce. I feel it's important to know before you go and if you seek advice from a divorce attorney, it doesn't mean that you are locked in to proceeding with a divorce. If you do some basic research now and find an attorney that you feel comfortable with, that means that you'll be ready to move forward smoothly with no bumps in the new year.
4. Open new accounts in your name. Moving forward as a single person in 2012 will require that you have a bank account and credit cards in your name. Lay the groundwork now. Don’t use the bank where you currently have your joint accounts. Go to a different bank and open both a savings and a checking account in your name. You’ll need your own credit card, too, so you should start that process now, as well. Securing credit may be more complicated than just filling out an application or making a single phone call.
5. Remain vigilant. Is your spouse using the good cheer of the holidays as cover while they dissipate family assets? Be attentive, and if you are concerned at all about financial shenanigans by your spouse, you may want to get some advice regarding filing a joint tax return for 2011.
Some people who are considering divorce can let the holidays get them down. Don’t be one of them. Use this opportunity to start planning ahead, and you’ll be able to start the New Year confident that you are on the way to a more stable and secure financial future. Plus you'll be on the road to getting that fresh start you've been dreaming about.