Our divorce checklist for mothers can help you plan for the future. Getting divorced is one of the most significant life changes you’ll ever have. You need to know what to expect, and you want to do the right things.
At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, our clients often wonder how to prepare for divorce as a mother.
Here is the divorce checklist for moms from our Charlotte divorce attorney.
Checklist of 15 Things to Do for Mothers Going Through Divorce
1. Safety planning
Your safety and the safety of your children comes first. You may need to identify a safe place where you can go with your children. You may need spare keys, a change of clothes, cash, and personal items kept somewhere safe. It may be appropriate to seek a restraining order.
Do what you can to document any threatening behavior. Your safety may be a consideration for when you serve legal paperwork. Be sure to tell your attorney and others that you trust about your safety concerns.
2. Learn about child custody
As a mother, child custody is likely first on your mind. North Carolina child custody laws use the best interests factors to award child custody and visitation. When you understand these factors, you can be proactive, like ensuring you have appropriate housing for the children. Think about how you might explain the situation so that the court can make the proper determination of child custody.
3. Prepare your personal information
You’re going to need personal information for you and your spouse, including your full legal names, birth dates, date of marriage, addresses, date of separation, and social security numbers. You’ll need personal information for minor children, too.
4. Income and benefits
The income and benefits of each party are critical to every aspect of a divorce, including child support and spousal support. You’ll need employer information, income, benefits, educational history, and professional licenses for each party. Gather as much information as possible, and your attorney can help you get the rest.
5. Inventory your assets
Identify real property, including the marital home, vehicles, and valuables like jewelry, equipment, and electronics. Bank statements, investments, and retirement accounts are important, too. One parent is often uninformed about assets. An attorney can assist in discovering assets and making sure that they are fully valued.
6. Identify debts
Debts are identified and assigned in a divorce. Debts are divided equitably, so it’s important to gather the information you have so that you can create an accurate picture of the marital estate.
7. Tax information
Gather tax returns and income statements as far back as you have them. If there have been significant income changes, gather records explaining what occurred.
8. Household bills
List of your household bills. Identify any usual medical or personal expenses that may impact your financial needs.
9. Don’t dissipate assets
The court won’t look favorably on dissipating assets or hiding them among family members. If you’re worried that the other spouse may dissipate assets, it may be appropriate to move the court for an injunction. Ask your attorney about securing temporary orders for spousal support and child support.
10. Protect your passwords
Spouses commonly share passwords or computers. Now is the time to stop. Change your passwords so that only you know them. Remove saved passwords so that your spouse can’t look into your records without your knowledge.
11. Update wills, trusts, beneficiaries, and next of kin
It’s time to update your estate planning, including wills and trusts. If you named your spouse as a beneficiary of your life insurance or a bank account, it won’t update automatically with your judgment of divorce. You’ll need to change your beneficiaries manually. You may need to change the listed next of kin in employment and medical records.
12. Criminal records
A criminal record of violence, domestic violence, or substance abuse may weigh in child custody and marital fault. If you’re aware of your spouse’s criminal history, any information you have can be helpful, like case numbers, courts, and approximate dates. Your attorney can gather records for proceedings.
13. Medical information
The physical health of the parties can be a factor in child custody and spousal support. If either party has a relevant medical history, take notes for your attorney. A child’s medical needs may be important, too.
14. Counselors and mental health
Just like physical health can be important in divorce, mental health may be important, too. If either spouse or the children see a counselor or receive mental health care, provide dates and general information for your attorney.
15. List your must-haves and your maybes
Think about what’s most important to you. Is your goal to keep the marital home? Do you want primary custody? Is there a reason your spouse should have supervised visitation?
Write down your ideas and concerns. Determine what is most important to you and where there may be room to compromise. Your attorney can help with developing specific goals for your divorce proceedings.
Talk to a Divorce Lawyer in Charlotte
As a mother, if you are working through the steps you should take during a divorce, we invite you to talk to a lawyer. Contact Remington & Dixon today to talk about your situation.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.