Facing Divorce? Here’s Your Essential Guide to Get Organized

The process of divorce can be emotionally taxing and logistically complex. Being prepared can help you navigate this difficult journey with more confidence and ease. Here in Columbus, Ohio, our legal team at the Law Office of Dmitriy Borshchak often advises clients to start the process by getting organized. Here’s a practical checklist that you can use to streamline your divorce proceedings and ensure you’re armed with all the necessary information and documents. 

If you have children, pay special attention to point #7 below.

1. Gather Financial Documents

The first step is to assemble all your financial records. This will aid in understanding your financial situation and help your lawyer give you the best advice. This documentation includes, but is not limited to child-related expenses, or any documentation that could be relevant to custody and/or child support. Here are a few examples below:

  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Mortgage documents
  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Investment statements
  • Other assets or liabilities

2. Records of Marital Property

In Ohio, marital property (all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage) is generally divided equitably during a divorce. Make a list of these properties, including real estate, vehicles, valuable collections, electronics, furniture, etc.

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Valuable collections
  • Electronics
  • Furniture

3. Keep Track of Separate Property

Not all property is marital property. Items that you owned before the marriage or received as an individual gift or inheritance during the marriage are usually considered separate property. Make sure to identify and provide evidence for any separate property you own.

  • Items owned before the marriage
  • Gifts received individually during the marriage
  • Inherited property

4. Understand Your Income and Expenses

Compile a comprehensive list of your monthly income and expenses. This will be vital when determining child support, alimony, or even your post-divorce budget. Include everything from rent and utilities to groceries, child care expenses, and discretionary spending.

  • Monthly income details
  • Monthly expenses: Rent, utilities, groceries, child care, discretionary spending

5. List all Credit Cards and Loans

Understanding your debt is as crucial as knowing your assets. List out all joint and separate credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and any other debts. Obtain the most recent statements for each.

  • Joint and separate credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Auto loans
  • Personal loans
  • Other debts

6. Prepare a List of Questions for Your Attorney

Going into a meeting with your attorney with a prepared list of questions can save you both time and stress. This could include questions about the divorce process, how assets might be divided, potential custody arrangements, and what you can expect in terms of fees and timelines.

7. ***Critical – Develop a Plan for Living Arrangements***

Think about where you and your spouse will live during the divorce proceedings and afterwards. If you have children, consider how these arrangements will affect them. An essential aspect to consider when preparing for divorce is your future living arrangements. 

This not only involves deciding whether you’ll stay in your current home or move elsewhere, but also entails planning out logistics such as moving costs, potential rent or mortgage payments, and adjusting to changes in your lifestyle. 

If you have children, consider how this move will impact them and whether a potential new location is conveniently close to their school or other amenities. Also, consider the implications on any joint mortgage or rental agreement you may currently have with your spouse.

8. Set Up Your Own Mailbox

It’s essential to establish a private and secure way to receive mail. Consider setting up a P.O. box or use a trusted friend or family member’s address for sensitive divorce-related mail.

9. Business Division: What Documents Do You Need?

If you or your spouse own a business, its division can add another layer of complexity to your divorce proceedings. However, getting organized and knowing which documents you need can help streamline the process.

To start, gather all documents related to the business’s ownership and value. This includes business tax returns, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements from the past three to five years. Having a clear picture of the business’s financial health is crucial for determining its value.

Next, identify the documents that outline the business’s structure and ownership, such as partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, or articles of incorporation. These documents can provide insight into the nature of the business, how it’s managed, and how ownership is divided.

You should also compile any contracts or agreements the business has entered into. This includes leases, vendor contracts, and customer agreements. These documents can impact the business’s future profitability and, thus, its valuation.

Lastly, if the business has employees, gather all payroll records, employment contracts, and benefit plans. These documents can provide insight into the business’s operational costs and obligations.

10. Secure Legal Representation

Once you’ve gathered all necessary documentation, it’s time to secure legal representation. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can guide you through the complexities of Ohio’s divorce laws and help protect your interests.

11. Practice Self-Care

Lastly, but just as importantly, take care of yourself. Divorce is stressful. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist can help you navigate this challenging time with resilience.

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Adequate sleep
  • Emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist

Remember, every divorce is unique, and this list is a starting point. Depending on your situation, there may be additional considerations. For personalized advice tailored to your circumstances, reach out to an experienced Ohio divorce attorney like Dmitriy Borshchak. If you have questions or need assistance with your divorce preparation, the Law Office of Dmitriy Borshchak at 614-334-6851 is ready to help guide you through this process. You don’t have to navigate this alone; professional help is available.