More often than not, the people I work with let me know at the outset that they have not yet told their significant others that they want a divorce. They’re contemplating divorce but have no idea where to start or what’s involved in the process. All they know is that they aren’t sure if they’re ready to tell their significant other yet.
If you’re in a similar position, where you know you want to take that next step but you’re not sure where to start or what to do in order to start getting prepared without your significant other finding out… here are some of my recommendations to quietly begin the process:
1. OBTAIN BANK STATEMENTS
If you’re an authorized user on a bank account, you can head over to any local branch and ask for your bank statements. Alternatively, you can login online and download bank statements. Most if not all banks will not notify the other user that you’ve downloaded bank statements.
These are important to begin gathering so you can see what money is going in and what money is going out of your account. The more informed you are about your expenses vs income, the better.
2. GATHER COPIES OF YOUR TAX RETURNS
Tax returns can reveal loads of vital information. For example, tax returns may provide insight into assets you may not know anything about as well as accounts that are accruing interest that your significant other reported on their tax returns but that you didn’t know existed. When it comes to the divorce process, attorney’s need to be aware of anything and everything that shows earnings, debts, income, etc.
- Go to: www.irs.gov
- Search – how to get transcripts and tax returns
- Site walks you through. There is/may be a fee.
*your significant other would not get notified.
3. MORTGAGE STATEMENTS AND LOAN STATEMENTS
Statements for a mortgage or any type of loan (ie. vehicle loan) have important information for you to consider as you think about divorce. This information includes whose name the mortgage or loan is in, what the balance of the debt is and what monthly payments are required.
If you don’t receive paper copies and your name is on the loan, you can request this information directly from your lender.
*If your name isn’t on the loan, flag this as a follow up item so that you can discuss with your attorney.
4. CREDIT REPORT
A credit report shows current and past debt obligations associated with your name and social security number. If you do not recognize any of the creditors or debts listed on your report, you should contact the creditor directly for more information.
Thankfully, nowadays there are free credit report companies that you can do this through. Here are some examples of places you can sign up to get your free credit report:
Your main focus here should be to know what debts exist in your name or are associated with your social security number. Surprises can be fun but not when it comes to debt!
Your credit report is yours and no one else’s, therefore only you and your associated email account would get a notification of the credit report inquiries.
5. HAVE A PLAN
Create a plan for yourself that includes where you will live and how you will support yourself both in the early stages of divorce as well as post-divorce. This gives you direction as you go through the divorce process.
Having a plan will not only help solidify a foundation for your divorce, but it can be something you can refer back to at any point during your divorce. You want to move forward intentionally with your decisions. The plan doesn’t necessarily have to be all logistics, you can include answers to questions, such as:
- How do I want to feel when I finish the divorce process?
- How do I want my kids to feel when the divorce process has finished?
As you can see from all of the above, information is power. The more information you have, the more you can advocate for yourself during the divorce process. All of this information can be obtained TODAY so that you can be as prepared as possible for the divorce process.