Top 3 Pre-Divorce Planning Tips
Beyond finding a lawyer in your venue (a fancy legal term for where you’re divorcing—like Seattle or Bellevue in King County, Washington), here are three critical things check off the big deal list.
#1: Get a realistic expectation of your financial situation.
Take personal responsibility for digging up financial information. Find out how much money is in the bank with statements. Find out where you have 401(k)s and IRAs and pensions. Find out what your house is worth and how much you still owe on the mortgage. Do the same math with your vehicles and all your other assets. Do your homework now about spousal maintenance and property / debt distribution. (Don’t worry, we can help—even through legal discovery.) What are your ongoing bills? Draw up a budget based on what can you realistically afford. No matter what, your lifestyle is about to change. The clearer picture you have of how that will look, the better off you’ll be.
#2: Focus on the future, not the now.
We know you’re undergoing emotional upheaval, but never forget, these are business decisions. Say you’re super attached to the family home…but can’t afford the mortgage payments in the long run. Do not give away your retirement to keep something that will eventually cost you more in taxes and realtor fees. Assets can vary widely when considering both immediate and long-term rewards. Businesses and real estate can be especially difficult to value. Tax ramifications really count. At DuBois Levias, we have CPAs, forensic accountants, and other experts on hand to figure out what’s what. Ask yourself: what do you want your outlook to be on the day of your divorce? How about in five years? Even in over a decade?
#3: Collect your lists…and make your strategy.
Now you’ve got a list of assets, debts, a budget outline. Talk to your divorce lawyer to plan out a strategy. If you have kids, tread carefully on what you say and how you approach the situation. You want to do what you can to minimize the negative impact of the divorce on them. (We have lots of insight on this aspect alone. Just ask.) Imagine how you’d look to an outside parenting evaluator and act accordingly. Yes, even on social media. Always put your children first.