The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 31,691 divorces and annulments in 2021. Divorce is a life-altering process that requires careful planning and preparation.
If you are going through a divorce, knowing what to expect and what documents to gather can help you navigate this challenging journey with greater ease.
Divorce can be emotionally draining. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions, including sadness, anger and anxiety. Seek support from friends, family or a therapist to help you cope.
Assess your financial situation, including assets, debts, income and expenses. Gather information about your marital assets and debts. Know what you own, what your spouse owns and what you jointly own. This includes real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments and personal property.
If you have children, be ready to discuss custody and support arrangements. Focus on their best interests and be willing to negotiate with your ex-spouse for their sake. Prepare to discuss schedules, holidays and important decisions regarding the kids.
Expect legal proceedings, which may involve filing paperwork, attending court hearings and working through negotiations or mediation. Familiarize yourself with the legal process.
Assemble important documents
You should get your documentation in order prior to filing if you can. Collect bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs and any other financial documents that show your income, assets and liabilities. Gather deeds, mortgage documents and any other papers related to real estate you own, whether jointly or separately.
You also will need statements for retirement accounts and investment portfolios, along with documentation for any life, health or property insurance policies.
Also gather important identification documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and Social Security cards. If you have a will, trust or other estate planning documents, make copies for reference. Maintain copies of your recent tax returns and supporting documents. Also, keep records of monthly expenses to help determine your living costs and standard of living.
Keep records of email, text messages and any written communication with your spouse that may be relevant to the divorce. If you have children, gather school records, medical records and any documents that pertain to their well-being.
Preparing for divorce allows you to navigate the process more smoothly and make informed decisions. It can also ensure you protect your rights and interests.