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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

If you and your spouse have separated or agreed to a divorce, one of the two of you will have to bite the bullet and file for divorce sooner or later.

Doing so may be no simple task, you’ll need to make some difficult decisions and gather a lot of documentation. Is going through these steps worth the hassle? Are you better off getting your spouse to file or are is there a payoff for initiating a divorce first?

Being prepared

Divorce involves dividing nearly everything you own and arranging a custody order if you have children — arguably some of the biggest, most life-changing decisions you’ll have to make. These are not issues to procrastinate.

The first step to resolving an issue is to put the measures in place to handle it. Filing for divorce first is advantageous in that it requires you to prepare by:

  • Collecting necessary documentation — copies of relevant financial and legal documents, such as tax returns, vehicle registrations, insurance policies, bank statements, paychecks, real estate records, your will, retirement account statements and more
  • Hiring an attorney — In some cases, it’s best to hire your attorney first because if your spouse has a consultation with other attorneys in the area, they will not be able to serve you due to their relationship with your spouse (even if they are not hired by your spouse)
  • The best strategy — Acquiring the services of an attorney beforehand will also allow you and your lawyer time to develop a strategy that outlines how you and your spouse can work through the divorce and what your priorities and expectations should be for the process

Maintain access to your bank account

In less agreeable divorces, your spouse may take, spend or hide assets if prior to the divorce. Under California law, you may file for temporary emergency orders that can protect your marital financial assets immediately and last until the divorce has been settled.

If circumstances do not permit an emergency order, you’ll still be in a better place to save for the divorce process, open a credit card in your name and take other steps to prepare yourself financially for this transition.

Custody of your children

In some circumstances, you may also request a temporary emergency order to establish temporary custody of your children. However, these are typically issued in situations where the other parent’s involvement with the children could be dangerous.

You should speak to a lawyer about whether your specific case may have grounds for a judge to grant you a temporary emergency order.

An attorney can also help provide guidance on other related divorce issues, such as what your financial outcome might look like, how long the process may take, which custody plans may be best for your unique circumstances and more.

What do Prince, John Denver, Tupac Shakur and Amy Winehouse have in common? They all died without a will. As a recent CNBC article noted, the years have seen many famous musicians with large estates die without a will or similar estate planning device in place. Reports are that Aretha Franklin now also makes this list.

Now, famous musicians are far from the only ones who sometimes neglect to have an estate plan. There are Americans from all different backgrounds and fields who put off forming a will or trust. And a person doesn’t have to be rich for there to be big risks in such delays. Putting off estate planning puts a person in danger of one day adding their name to the list of individuals who have died without a will or trust.

By failing to have a will or similar device in place, a person is surrendering something very important. This is his or her say in what will happen after he or she dies. Wills and similar devices allow people to express their wishes, in a legal enforceable form, when it comes to a range of after-death issues, including:

  • What will happen with their assets
  • Who will be in charge of managing their estate
  • Who will take care of their kids (if the children are still minors)

When people give up their say on these matters by not having an estate plan, these key issues will instead end up being decided by state intestacy laws or courts. This could not only lead to results the stray far from one’s wishes, but also open the door to a lot of disputes, confusion and hard feelings within one’s family.

Skilled estate planning attorneys can help individuals form wills and other estate planning documents aimed ensuring that they get to have their say when it comes to significant issues like those mentioned above.