If you’re pursuing a formal separation from your spouse in Pennsylvania you’ve got at least one year before either one of you can initiate the divorce. It’s important to use this time wisely if you want to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable divorce settlement when the dust finally settles.
Chances are you will be getting a divorce, even if you hope otherwise. 87% of separations do ultimately end in the dissolution of the marriage. Thus, it’s within your best interests to treat this time as a preparation period.
Choose your attorney.
Think you don’t need an attorney until it’s time to file? Think again. Every decision you make from now until the date of your divorce could have an impact on your life in the future. You need a solid attorney to guide you through them.
For example, should you try to stay in the family home or move out? Staying is possible (it’s called an in-house separation) but what are the implications of that move? Can you make withdrawals from your 401K? How do you navigate the process of paying the family bills?
Without some sort of expert legal advice it would be easy to make mistakes that can cause you big problems later.
Get a formal agreement.
A formal separation agreement protects you. It also establishes the date of separation, which will help determine what is and is not marital property when the divorce is finalized.
A separation agreement will look a lot like a divorce decree, as it will cover all the same major issues. But it is not set in stone. All the same, having one eliminates confusion and ensures both parties are meeting their obligations.
Get your financial house in order.
From learning about and documenting the marital finances to closing joint credit card accounts, separation is an ideal time to sort out and protect your finances. It’s also a good time to get used to living on a reduced budget.
Some people overspend to deal with the stress of separation. Don’t let that be you.
Stay in your kid’s lives.
This is one of the biggest mistakes we see people making during a separation. Often, one spouse moves out. The other remains in the marital home with the kids. The one who has the kids takes care of every doctor’s appointment, school meeting, and daily routine. The one who moves out disengages, seeing the kids rarely, if at all
This move will have a big impact on parenting time or custody. Make sure you’ve built time with the kids into your separation agreement, and don’t miss any of that time.
Investigate divorce financing.
Some people are at a disadvantage during the divorce process because they don’t have enough money to hire a divorce lawyer. But divorce is never something you should handle on your own.
Fortunately, you may not have to. There are companies who will finance your legal expenses. Services like these can even the playing field a great deal, especially if your spouse has been the primary breadwinner while you’ve been the primary homemaker. This is a good investment if you need it, since the divorce will have a major impact on the rest of your life.
Of course, you don’t need divorce financing to have your first consultation with us. All our initial consultations are free. So if you and your spouse are separating, don’t wait. Give us a call today.