Pre-Divorce Planning

Considering whether you should end your marriage is one of the most important and difficult decisions you will ever encounter. It is important to approach the question from a rational perspective rather than solely an emotional one. In many ways it is a business decision that requires you to evaluate many issues. Once you review this list of questions, you may be more prepared to work with an attorney.

Children

  • Who will the children live with?
  • If they live with your ex-spouse, how often will you be able to visit them?
  • How will you and your ex-spouse make decisions about the children, such as their health and education?
  • Who pays for the children’s day care, education, extracurricular activities and other living expenses?
  • Is shared residential custody right for your family? How does it affect child support payments?

Support

  • What about spousal support or maintenance? Will you receive it or need to pay it? How much and for how long?
  • Will maintenance increase or decrease in the future due to the changed financial circumstances of either of the parties, economic conditions or other factors?
  • Will the right to receive support payments be waived?
  • How much child support will you or your ex-spouse pay?
  • Will child support increase or decrease over time?

Your Home

  • Who will live in the marital home during the divorce process?  Who will pay the expenses associated with maintaining the marital home?
  • Will one of the spouses keep the marital home or will it be sold? How will the proceeds be divided?
  • If someone keeps the home, will one of the parties deed their interest in it to the other?
  • If you decide to sell the home, will both spouses be involved in the sale and closing? Who decides the selling price or if a broker will be used?
  • Who will be responsible for major repairs and the costs of preparing the home for sale?
  • Who will be entitled to deduct the mortgage interest charges and real estate taxes for income tax purposes?
  • Who will be responsible for any income (capital gains) taxes which may be imposed as a result of the sale of the home?

Income Taxes

  • Who will be entitled to receive any refund that may be due on any past joint income tax returns filed by the parties?
  • If there is a deficiency on any past joint income tax returns, who will be responsible for it?
  • If you file joint income tax returns for the present year who will be responsible to pay any taxes due and who will be entitled to receive any amount refunded?
  • Who will be entitled to claim the children as exemptions for income tax purposes?

Credit Card Debt/Lines of Credit

  • Who will be responsible for paying down credit card debt incurred during the marriage?
  • Should you cancel all joint credit cards or lines of credit?

Attorney’s Fees

  • Who will be responsible for your attorney’s fees?
  • Will you have to contribute to your ex-spouse’s attorney’s fees?

This list is not exhaustive but it does give you an idea about the issues that should be considered before pursuing a divorce. It is always in your best interest to consult with a family law attorney to make sure you understand all the relevant issues and their legal impact on you.

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