Divorce Checklist: 5 Essential Action Items When You’re Calling It Quits

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Has your relationship gone spectacularly wrong? Maybe you’re thinking of calling it quits with your spouse. If a divorce from your spouse seems imminent you can find a divorce attorney in sugar land or use this checklist to remind you of 5 essential action items you’ll want to take care of:

1.   Determine If the Relationship Is Truly, Irrevocably Over

Every couple faces challenges. The birth of a first child is a particularly rough time in any marital relationship. Financial disagreements can create stress and strife for just about every couple on the planet.

Most couples also have to deal with communication problems, waning levels of physical intimacy and increasing levels of boredom. So if you’re facing any of these issues in your own marriage, be aware that you are not alone in this.

If you’re thinking you’ll get a divorce, start over with someone else and everything will be better, you’re probably in for a huge disappointment. It will almost definitely not be much different with the next person. It doesn’t matter who you marry; these sorts of problems are an inevitable part of marriage.

Is there any hope you could save the relationship you have? Countless couples have divorced, only to later work out their differences and remarry. Divorce is expensive, heartbreaking, embarrassing and awful. If there’s any possibility that you and your spouse could work things out, it would be smart to take that step before putting yourself through the agony of a divorce.

If you haven’t already tried therapy, try it. Often, an objective third party can help couples work through problems they’re unable to resolve on their own.

2. Document Your Current Financial Situation

If you’re positive there is no way to salvage your relationship, one of the most critical next steps is making copies of all relevant documents relating to your current financial situation.

Create a file with thorough documentation of all the property, assets, accounts, investments and agreements you and your spouse have collected during the time you’ve been together. If the relationship is a contentious one, you’ll want to keep this file in a safe place, possibly outside the home.

3. Don’t Move Out Yet

Living with your soon-to-be-ex might be uncomfortable – especially if s/he has asked you to leave. Difficult or not, staying put is usually the best course of action. Moving out prematurely would be a major mistake.

This is because it could adversely affect the way a court rules on a variety of issues including custody of your children, what happens to the home, and whether spousal support must be paid during the divorce proceedings. Before making a move, consult your attorney for advice.

4. Establish Financial Independence

Before a divorce is finalized, establishing your financial independence from your spouse can be tricky. You’ll probably want to open your own bank account and credit card accounts. Consulting an attorney is a smart move, because you’ll need to understand the laws in your country and state before proceeding.

Depending on your situation, you may not be able to close your join accounts or change the beneficiaries on your insurance policies or your will quite yet – particularly if divorce proceedings have been initiated.

According to Jeff Landers, contributor at Forbes.com, written consent from your spouse is likely to be required if you’re changing your beneficiary designations on your 401(k), 403(b) or pension plan.

Once you understand what’s allowable and what’s not, take any lawfully allowable actions you deem necessary to establish financial independence from your spouse.

5. Prepare for Changing Tax Circumstances

It’s also important to consider your evolving tax situation. As a married couple, you’re jointly responsible for paying taxes until your divorce is finalized. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has posted an article on the topic of avoiding the tax traps of divorce. They advise you that it’s important to start preparing for your change in tax status as soon as possible.

According to the IRS, you may transfer property tax-free before your divorce papers are signed. If one spouse buys out the other’s share in an asset such as a home, they warn that tax implications are more complex. They advise you to consider the capital gains tax that will be assessed when handling the division of assets in that manner.

Another possible pitfall to consider is that one spouse may file taxes improperly, leading to a tax debt that could include significant penalties and interest. This is a situation you want to avoid; but if it becomes an issue, you’ll want to speak with your attorney about the possibility of innocent spouse relief.

Divorce is horrible. Yet, for some couples, divorce is the only viable solution.  If divorce is truly the best way forward in your situation, we hope this checklist will be helpful to you as you navigate your way out of your relationship.

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