If you are researching the topic of the possibility of a divorce, there are many factors to consider. When should you consult with the attorneys at Pingel Family Law? If you are facing the unfortunate reality that divorce may be coming in your future, even if it is going to be six months or a year into the future, you are not too early to schedule a consultation to engage in some pre-divorce planning.
Most importantly, please know that clients that come to Pingel Family Law for a consultation are not steered toward a divorce. Having helped people work through the details of their marriage for more than two decades, we know that there are many areas of potential problem solving and conflict resolution that we can guide you through. Many clients that schedule a consultation to contemplate divorce planning topics are equipped with a variety of new options and strategies to try to work on reducing conflict in their marriage or even saving the marriage. Please know that our goal is to give you honest, solid legal advice at a time when it matters most in the life of your family.
Beyond various input on trying to reconcile your marriage, a natural initial question is often to complete how to know if it is time to divorce or if a divorce is right for me?
Deciding to move forward with a divorce carries long-term consequences. It is something that you need to consider and contemplate in depth before moving forward. Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself and contemplate before electing to move forward with a divorce:
- Am I satisfied that I’ve done everything within my abilities to repair the relationship?
- Have I carefully contemplated divorce and am I really ready for a divorce, or am I reacting emotionally?
- What are my motivations in wanting a divorce?
- Will a divorce solve the problems I’m experiencing?
- Have I accepted the consequences to my decision to divorce?
- Can I handle the unpleasant side effects of divorce, including the effects on our children?
- Am I willing to take on all of the responsibilities of life as a single person?
- Am I at a point where I feel ready to meet with an attorney?
Meeting with or retaining a knowledgeable family law attorney can be a valuable tool as you begin to prepare for divorce. Having a consultation allows you to gain valuable information to understand your likely rights and obligations. The decisions you make as you prepare for and contemplate a divorce will likely dictate the path your divorce takes and ultimately the level of cooperation and collaboration between you and your spouse, as well as the final outcome. It is crucial that you obtain as much information as possible to educate yourself about what to expect in the divorce process, as well as how to best protect yourself, your children and to maximize the opportunity for a successful outcome.
You may be questioning whether you should tell your spouse I’m thinking about filing for divorce?
This is a question that requires careful consideration and planning. It is probably best to discuss your individual situation with a divorce attorney before deciding how and when to approach this discussion with your spouse. On the one hand, surprising your spouse with divorce papers where you have not previously discussed the issues is likely to kick-off a difficult and more adversarial divorce process, it is not always the best option. There are times when having the benefit and ability to plan for the divorce filing, seeking temporary orders or taking other action to financially plan strategies for the divorce is necessary for your case and situation.
Of course, if you are in a domestic violence situation, you believe your spouse will become unnecessarily angry around the children or you believe that mental health concerns will be exacerbated, including potential concerns of self-harm, it is likely necessary to get one or more professionals in place to assist with a strategy in disclosing your plan and intention to divorce.
Whether it is a peaceful, agreeable situation or a high-conflict situation with concerns of physical harm or domestic violence, your best strategy is to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney before moving forward with the process.
What steps should I take before filing for divorce?
Again, as outlined above, the best and most important initial step is to plan and outline a legal strategy with a trusted family law attorney. As part of the pre-divorce planning process, here are some additional considerations that the divorce attorney may recommend for your case and situation:
Copy and Retain Protected Copies Important Documents.
Find documentation in your home for all important documents verifying/reflect information about your assets, debts, income and expenses, as well as the last several years of tax returns, bank statements, life insurance policies, mortgage statements, credit card statements and paycheck stubs. If you are able to make a digital copy of the documents, that’s great. If not, make a photocopy/hard copy and place the documents in a secure location such as keeping them at your place of employment or providing them in an organized box to a trusted friend or family member for safe-keeping. Finally, if you have important heirlooms or priceless memories such as photographs, home videos and your child’s artwork, place those items in a secure location so that the items do not “disappear” if the other spouse is angry and looking for a way to lash out.
Retaining Personal Documents
Gather up your personal important documents such as your Social Security Card, medical insurance information, birth certificate, passport, and other similar personal documents. You will want to keep these items in a safe place. Many families mistakenly (or purposefully) mix up these personal documents when parties are separating and it’s common for them to get misplaced.
As you are trying to move forward in your life, it is important that you protect and safeguard your confidentiality by changing all of the passwords to your personal accounts. This includes passwords to your cell phone, email, computer, social media, and iCloud accounts. Make sure you select a password that your spouse cannot guess, keeping in mind that your spouse knows you better than probably anyone in the world.
Create an Inventory Household Items.
Use your phone to record a video of the contents in your home. Slowly walk through each room and open closet or cupboard doors and document everything that exists. Don’t forget about the items in your home safe.
Protect and Access Credit and Ensure Access to Available Funds:
It is critical as you prepare for your future that you review and check your credit report. You need to know what debts exist and the status of your credit score. If possible, you want to open a new credit card solely in your name so you have confirmed access to funds, if needed for an emergency or otherwise. If possible without alerting your spouse, it may be the appropriate time for you to begin maintaining a separate bank account. This will allow you to have access to emergency funds if needed during the case.
Again, it is crucial that you meet with an attorney at this stage of the planning to make wise decisions about the unfolding of your future. Call Pingel Family Law today to secure a consultation where our attorneys can help you plan for your future. Call (816) 208-8130.
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