Your 2016 Divorce Checklist

There's a reason why January is one of the biggest divorce months of the year. The holidays are finally over and unhappy married couples want to start off the New Year with a clean slate, or they want to wipe their slate clean for 2016.

If you've been waiting for the holidays to be over to file for divorce, now is the time to get all of your ducks in a row to begin the filing process. Here are a few tips to help you get your divorce started:

1. Run your credit report.
If possible, run both of your credit reports. At the least, we recommend pulling your credit report twice during the divorce process. Once at the beginning, and once at the end. That way you know exactly how many accounts you have and whose name they are in.

2. Gather all of the necessary documents.
Even if you haven't told your spouse yet, start gathering and making copies of all of the financial documents now, including: bank accounts, taxes, mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, investments, etc. Otherwise, it can be a lot harder to get ahold of them later.

3. Find a new financial advisor.
It's wise to use someone different than the financial advisor you used during your marriage. Better yet, find someone who has not been used by either of your families; someone who is completely unbiased.

4. Consult with a divorce attorney.
Before you drop the "D" bomb, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can advise you of your rights.

5. Get those sentimental items now.
Family photos, birth videos, wedding rings, family heirlooms, etc. – they can all mysteriously disappear during the divorce process. To prevent this from happening, have those items stored at a friend or relative's house.

6. Talk to a CPA.
During the divorce process, it's important that you fully understand the tax consequences of your divorce settlement. That said, get the advice of a tax professional before you sign on the dotted line.

7. Think twice before packing your bags.
Got kids? You may want to think hard, very hard before you pack your bags and get your own place and leave the kids behind. If you wish to have custody of the children, your chances are greater if you don't move out, leaving them with your soon-to-be ex.

8. Get a P.O. Box.
Spouses have a tendency to open each other's mail – and you don't want your spouse reading your mail once you've filed for divorce, especially letters from your attorney. Get a P.O. Box and have all of your mail routed there.

We're only scratching the surface on what you should do to prepare for divorce. To learn more, contact our office to speak with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free.