Steps You Should Take Before Formally Filing for Divorce

When you decide to divorce in New Mexico, it can be tough to tell what you should do next. Many people’s first instinct is to file in court right away, but if you take some steps before you file–or your spouse does–you can help prepare yourself for the proceedings and protect your interests.
While it may feel a little selfish or callous to plan your divorce, particularly if your spouse has no idea, keep in mind that a divorce is a legal process. If you go into a legal process with emotions driving the car, so to speak, it’s likely the divorce will be harder on you and your spouse. You may also end up making decisions you’ll come to regret later.

Speak to a Family Law Attorney

Legal advice is valuable in the divorce process overall and definitely at the start. Even though you haven’t filed yet, your attorney can take a look at your situation and give you any information you may need before you proceed with filing. They can also make you aware of issues you have not yet considered, such as retirement accounts, educational expenses and health care coverage. Divorce cases vary, so talking to a legal professional about the specific features of your case can help get you prepared.

Get Your Paperwork Together

You will need many documents in your divorce. To save yourself the stress of scrambling around and looking for things at the last minute, start gathering the documents you will need once you have made the decision. The exact papers you’ll want will depend on your case, but they generally include asset documentation–such as bank account and credit card statements–medical coverage paperwork, the marriage certificate and more. Copy everything and keep one set for yourself. Give another set to a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping. Organize your copies so you can quickly find any paper you may be looking for.

Conduct a Digital Audit

Spouses tend to have access to each other’s lives, such as shared calendars, social media accounts. website passwords and even shared emails. Take a look at your online presence and separate and/or secure as needed. Change all your passwords and consider getting a new email just to handle things relating to the divorce case.
Turn on your phone’s PIN or fingerprint identification tools for access if you haven’t already done so. Keep in mind that if your phone and your spouse’s phone are on the same plan, they may be able to see who you have been calling or texting. If you feel like your spouse is behaving suspiciously, you may want to get another phone to use temporarily for divorce-related matters.

Shore up Your Finances

A divorce can be financially straining in many ways, from legal fees to having a previously two-income household reduced down to one income. Go over your finances and set a budget, one that you will follow to the letter. Don’t forget to include the new expenses you may have during the divorce. If your spouse moves out, for example, you may have to pay the entirety of the household’s bills, including the rent or mortgage and the utilities. Even if you don’t expect the divorce to be terse, your spouse will have bills of their own from their new residence and may be limited in terms of contributions to your bills.
Save as much as you can to help keep your finances solid and your life less stressful as you go through the divorce process.
Divorce tends to involve a lot of emotions, so it may be difficult to plan for yours once you’ve made that life-changing decision. However, you can make this process a little easier and a little less stressful by taking some simple steps before you formally file.