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There are so many factors involved in a divorce, it is wisest to have a “game plan” in place from the beginning. Though part of that is certainly hiring an experienced and competent attorney, there are things that you can, and will have to, do on your own to provide your attorney with everything they will need to best protect your interests.

Looking Ahead to Distribution of Assets

Because part of your divorce involves the distribution of assets, you need to put yourself in a position of knowing those assets, documenting them and obtaining as much of the relevant documentation that you can.

  • Financial Accounts: Begin making copies of all documents involving financial accounts such as all bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, trust agreements, stock records, stock options and life and other insurance policies. Copy statements, ledgers, anything that provides information as to deposits, withdrawals and activity on such accounts. These accounts will be divided, so you want the documents to show the value of these accounts.
  • Other Personal Property: This includes assets such as your cars, boats, trailers, cash, furniture and furnishings in your home or homes. It is a good idea to photograph the larger items and take a video around each room in your home(s).
  • Real Property: Make copies of deeds, tax bills, if income property copy leases, rent receipts, expense receipts, mortgage statements and any documents that support value of the property. Occasionally people have current appraisals. If that is the case, make a copy.
  • Debt: Make copies of any and all bills and loan documents such as auto loans, charge statements, medical bills, tuition statements, all with records of payment.

Looking Ahead to Child Support and Alimony

Toward this end, you want to make copies of tax returns for at least the prior three years and copies of all paystubs for both spouses, and copies of any partnership or corporate tax returns that can be easily accessed in your home. The goal of this is to have documentary support to calculate income. This would include records from income properties, stock accounts, anything that generates income in any form.

  • Budget: You need to put together a budget for your living expenses and those of your child and children. Gather and copy records necessary to support these expenses.

Looking Ahead to Custody and the Well-Being of Your Children During the Divorce Process

Do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, put your child in the middle of any of this. It does not simply hurt you in dealing with a judge about you poor choices, but it harms your children. Do not ever use your children as messengers between you or your spouse and do not speak negatively of the other parent to your children. When in your children’s presence, be respectful to and about your spouse. It will lessen their burden and worry. Part of this preparation may be to get your child or children in a course for children going through a divorce or into therapy, if needed.

Putting Together the Proper Support Team for Your Divorce

First, you need the experienced and competent attorney. That attorney will help you put together the balance of your team that may include appraisers for real property or business interests and certain other assets; you may need an investigator; you may need psychologists for evaluation or for treatment for your children or various other experts depending on your circumstances.

If you need to discuss preparation for your divorce action, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.


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Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney.

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