The Essential Checklist for Women Getting Divorced
Divorce can be overwhelming, especially if it was unexpected. There are so many questions to be answered: Where am I going to live? What happens to our children? Can I afford to live alone? Will I get to keep my car?
Getting organized will help you regain a sense of control during this major life transition. Below is a checklist of essential tasks for women in all phases of the divorce process.
Checklist for Women Preparing for Divorce
- Obtain legal counsel
Even if you are anticipating a low-conflict divorce, you will still need a lawyer. Pick an attorney that practices divorce and family law exclusively. The right lawyer should listen to the details of your case with empathy and help you achieve your goals within the law and without judgment.
- Obtain copies of existing marriage and divorce paperwork
This can include a prenuptial agreement, domestic incident reports, existing court orders, and a divorce complaint (if you have already been served).
- Obtain copies of financial and legal paperwork
You will want a copy of your personal and business tax returns from the last three years, bank and credit card statements, paystubs, mortgage and property tax statements, titles to all property and automobiles, investment and retirement account statements, recurring invoices and tuition payments, insurance policy statements, wills, living wills, and power of attorney documents.
- Make a list of all household assets and debts
This can include mortgages, student loans, business loans, cars, antiques, art, jewelry, technology, fashion, tool equipment, safety deposit boxes, etc.
- Make a timeline of important events
This can include the dates of any name changes, marriages, children’s birthdays, dates of separation, dates of major events and/or instances of abuse or adultery.
- Collect relevant photos, videos, invoices, police reports, or correspondence supporting claims of abuse or adultery, if applicable
- Change your passwords and turn off shared devices and shared “cloud” services
When changing your passwords, don’t forget your email, computer sign-in, cellphone and tablet pins, online bank accounts, credit cards and loans, social media accounts, entertainment streaming services, cloud storage services, etc.
If you suspect there might be spyware on your home computer, do this from a safe computer at a public library or internet café. Never log in to any account on a computer you think might be compromised.
- Open a P.O. Box
This will allow you to securely receive mail from your divorce attorney, along with any other important correspondence that you would like to remain private from your spouse.
Checklist for Women During a Divorce
- Open a separate bank account
If you do not already have one, you should open a separate bank account in your own name. This will give you more control over cash flow, and help you keep a record of what you’re spending money on.
- Keep a journal
Conflicts arise during divorce, and sometimes they get heated. Keeping a daily journal allows you to record important events, conversations, and missed deadlines while they are fresh in your mind. You don’t know what information is going to be important to your case until you need it.
- Avoid social media
Whatever you post on social media is fair game in divorce court. Social media platforms are becoming a standard resource for divorce attorneys to build case arguments for custody, alimony, division of assets, and more. If you are ending a marriage, it’s best to avoid social media altogether.
- Consider re-entering the workforce
Re-entering the workforce after a significant employment gap can be challenging. It can also be incredibly empowering. For more guidance on this topic, check out our 7 must-know tips for women re-entering the workforce.
- Practice self-care
Eat healthy, drink lots of water, go to the gym. This is not the time for retail therapy, but there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to the occasional massage or manicure as a pick-me-up. Divorce can be a very stressful time. Staying physically healthy and emotionally strong will keep you clear-minded and focused on what’s important.
Checklist for Women After a Divorce
- Keep a hard copy and electronic copy of your final divorce decree
- Change your name, if applicable
Don’t forget your license, passport, voting registration, and Social Security card.
- Change the titles and insurance policies to all property and automobiles according to the divorce decree
- Remove your name from any debts that are no longer your responsibility, according to the divorce decree
If you are closing shared accounts, make sure there are no outstanding payments that need to clear, and redirect all auto-bills to the appropriate accounts.
- Update your name and address on all accounts and recurring bills, if applicable
- Meet with a Certified Financial Planner™ professional to create a budget for your new lifestyle, make a new retirement and estate plan, check your credit score and report, and update beneficiary information on all life insurance and retirement accounts
- Obtain health insurance, if necessary
Hire a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
The divorce lawyers at Arons & Solomon have good working relationships with family court judges and access to a network of key professionals, including financial planners, private investigators, forensic accountants, mental health counselors, process servers, and more.
Together, we can develop a strategy that serves the best interests of your family.