New Jersey Pre-Divorce Checklist

Being prepared can help you meet your divorce goals and objectives

Divorcing is emotional, of course, but there are other aspects of divorce that you need to consider. It is going to affect you financially as you will need to live on one income instead of two, and may need to reenter the job market after a long absence from the workforce. It is going to affect your schedule, as you may now have to assume more responsibility for running errands and setting aside time to spend with your children. While you will eventually settle into your new life, there are a number of adjustments you are going to make, especially in the short term. By making a plan and developing a pre-divorce checklist, you can help make the divorce process less stressful and start preparing for your future.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure you’ve covered your bases:

1. Find a divorce attorney with whom you feel comfortable

You want to find a family law lawyer who is experienced in divorce law and skilled in the courtroom (if it comes to that), but trust is just as important as knowledge when it comes to working with a divorce attorney. Ask questions and gauge how the attorney makes you feel. Is he or she compassionate and sensitive to your situation? Can the attorney explain things clearly, without a lot of legalese? Do they discuss all your options? You shouldn’t be afraid to discuss legal fees, and your attorney should be forthcoming about costs.

2. Gather and make copies of your financial documents

By getting your finances organized, you will be better prepared to have all the financial information the courts require and also be able to get a handle on your situation. Make copies of records and at least the last three years of financial statements, records and documents, including:

      • Checking, savings and certificates of deposits, whether in joint or separate accounts or in a trust
      • Investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds
      • Tax returns, both state and federal
      • Rental or investment property receipts
      • At least three of your most recent pay stubs
      • W-2 statements—both yours and your spouse’s
      • Retirement accounts, such as 401k or IRAs
      • Social Security statements (for both you and your spouse)

Don’t forget information regarding debts, including:

      • Credit card statements
      • Mortgage information or home equity loan statements
      • Property tax statements
      • Vehicle or equipment loans
      • Utility or household maintenance bills
      • Medical bills
      • Student loans
      • Child or spousal support orders from a previous marriage

You will also need to copy documents regarding insurance, appraisals, vehicle titles, appraisals for valuables (such as jewelry or antiques), business agreements and deeds for your primary residence. Your attorney will let you know of any additional documentation you may need to supply.

3. Make an inventory of your household

You and your soon-to-be-ex will be dividing up the property, so you’ll want to make sure you know what you have. Include valuable items such as artwork, appliances, furniture, electronics and vehicles, but also consider items like linens, kitchen utensils, lawnmowers and tools. In addition to making a list, you might want to take photographs.

4. Think about your children

Your children’s emotional, physical and financial well-being should be a primary concern. Divorce is typically tougher on children than it is on their parents, so you should start thinking about how you can be the best parent possible as they make the transition to their parents living apart.

Let us help you through the legal process with skill and compassion

If you are contemplating divorce, talk to us. Family law attorney Steven Cytryn has provided sound guidance and advocacy to clients in New Brunswick and throughout Central New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, please call us at (732) 214-1103 or contact us online.

Steven M. Cytryn
About the Author: Steven Cytryn
Steven M. Cytryn is the Managing Member of The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC, and primarily focuses his practice on divorce and family law matters.