Have you been thinking that it might be time to get a divorce? Maybe you and your spouse have been pulling away from one another recently. Perhaps there was an affair. There could be money issues that are weighing on you. There are countless reasons that you might be contemplating getting a divorce. Arizona is a no-fault state, so you don’t need to have a reason for. Your next step is to begin to prepare for divorce.
However, before filing, there are certain things that you should do, like developing a plan, for this big change in your life.
Is Divorce the Right Solution?
One of the first things you have to think about when you are considering divorce is whether it’s the right solution. Sometimes, little issues can and should be worked out if you still love the other person. If it’s a matter of money issues, talk with them about the problem. If they aren’t being as attentive as they used to be, just let them know and see if they change.
Sometimes divorce is the best option. Cases of domestic violence, people who don’t change and improve, and people who are no longer in love should not stay together.
Get an Idea of Your Assets and Debts
Before you file for divorce, you will want to know as much as possible about the community assets and debts you have with your spouse. If you don’t keep updated with your financial matters, it’s time that you checked into them. Those who don’t want their spouse to know they are considering a divorce should make sure they are careful when finding out this information.
Keep in mind, though, that if you are thinking about divorce, you can’t start moving assets around, hiding them, trying to put things only into your name, etc. It’s not allowed, and it will come out when you prepare for divorce proceedings.
Right now, you just need to get an idea of where your finances stand. Additionally, you will want to look into your separate property. In Arizona, which is a community property state, there are two types of property in a marriage—community and separate.
Community property is anything that was bought while you were married using community funds. If you bought a house, for example, and you are paying the mortgage from your income, it’s considered community property.
Separate property would be anything that you owned before the marriage, or that you were gifted or inherited while you were married. However, if any community funds are used to pay for the property, it could then be considered part of the community. It can be tricky to understand, so you will want to speak with an attorney if you have questions.
Take Care with Your Credit and Money
In Arizona, spouses are responsible for one another’s debt. You will want to mitigate the damage that this could cause. Track what’s happening with the marital funds. If your spouse is spending recklessly, there’s a chance that you will not be liable for that portion of the debt.
If you share bank accounts and credit cards with your spouse, consider closing them. You may have to wait to take your name off the accounts until you are ready to file the paperwork. Talk with your attorney about the best way to handle your credit, savings, and bank accounts to ensure you are within your legal rights to do so.
Determine Where You Will Live
Before filing for your divorce, you will also want to have an idea of where you will be living. You may not want to or be able to afford to stay in the family home. This might mean starting to look for apartments of your own or checking to see if you can stay with family and friends for a while. It will depend on your finances and situation.
Just makes sure you have a place you can go before you file. It will be one less thing for you to be stressed about while starting to prepare for divorce goals.
Consider Your Goals in the Divorce
Although you aren’t going to file prepare paperwork yet, you should start thinking about the goals you have for your divorce. What do you want out of it? If you have kids, what type of parenting plan would you like to see? What assets would you like to keep? What do you feel should be sold?
Knowing what you want will help you and your attorney—if you choose to use one—come up with a good strategy for the divorce.
Collect Important Documents
You should also start looking for all of the important documents you are likely to need. Doing this before filing will help you save time and will reduce the level of stress you feel. Some of the types of documents you might want to have access to include:
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
- Marriage license
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement plans
- Income information
- Tax returns
- Vehicle titles
When you talk with an attorney, they will let you know all of the paperwork you’ll need to gather.
Think About Employment
When you’re divorced, you also have to think about what you will be doing for money if you don’t have a job. If you were a stay-at-home spouse, you’ll need to find reliable income, which might mean starting to look for a job. This will ensure you can handle your bills, find a place to live, etc. Even if you already have a job, you may find that you need to have additional income to make things work.
Consider Whether You Need an Attorney
Should you contact an attorney when you’re ready to file your paperwork? It’s up to you ultimately. If you have a simple divorce without a lot of assets and if there aren’t children, you might be able to use a DIY divorce. Of course, that’s only if your ex is agreeable. They can make things a lot more difficult if they don’t want to get a divorce, or if they aren’t willing to budge when it comes to the negotiations.
In those cases, you’ll want to get in touch with a family law attorney that knows and understands Arizona divorce law.