Preparing for divorce in California depends on what kind of divorce you will be going through. If you and your spouse are planning an uncontested, amicable divorce, you might relax and don’t be concerned about the issues addressed below. If you are anticipating highly contested divorce you are on the right page and the guidance below would be very helpful
Preparing for divorce in California – Actions to take with financial services providers.
Credit Cards: Cancel all joint credit cards or remove your spouse’s name from your accounts. If you are authorized to use your spouse’s credit cards, make sure you have your name removed from those accounts.
Bank Accounts: Cancel all joint bank accounts and open a separate bank account. Divide any money in the former account evenly between you.
Insurance Policies: Change the beneficiary on any insurance policies. If you have a joint automobile insurance policy, ask the insurer to divide the account into two separate bills.
Miscellaneous Accounts: Obtain separate cell phone bills. If you are not going to remain in the house, make sure all phone and utility services remove your name from the account.
Automobile Loans: If possible, you do not want your spouse to be driving a car with your name on the automobile loan. Try to assume the car with the loan in your name. Otherwise, you will need to verify each month that the payments are being made on time.
Preparing for divorce in California – Decisions to make about your house.
The Family Residence: It is critical that you decide who will be moving out of the house before you separate. If finances are an issue, or you do not have an agreement regarding custody of the children, it may be best to remain in the house until these issues are resolved. If domestic violence is an issue, then consult an attorney and separate immediately. Otherwise, if you own the house, you need to make some immediate financial decisions, like who will make the house payments, and should the house be sold?
Financial Documents: Obtain all financial documents before you separate. These should include, but not be limited to, any evidence of how much you and your spouse own, how much you each spend, how much you each owe, and what your assets are. Normally, key documents will include bank account statements, credit card statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns, retirement statements, investment statements, mortgage statements, promissory notes, and loan agreements. All information should go back at least three years. If you or your spouse has an ownership interest in a corporation, consult an attorney for additional instructions.
Preparing for divorce in California – Decisions about our children’s life.
Custody of Children: If possible, it is best to have an agreement worked out with your spouse beforehand as to the living arrangements of the children. Who will they be living with? Who will care for them when both of you are at work? How often children will be visiting the other parent? The state provides free counselors to help you work out these questions without having to go to court.
Preparing for divorce in California – expect to receive or take responsibility to be ready to pay
What do you need to know about child and spousal support: If you have children and your income is higher than your spouse’s income, expect to pay some amount of your income to child support. This amount would depend on the difference in the income between you and your spouse and timeshare you have with your children. You may be expected to pay half of all child care costs, and uncovered medical bills in addition to that. If you make more than your spouse, there is the possibility you will be also paying spousal support.