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Preparing for the Worst - Pre-Divorce Planning

A divorce is rarely a spur-of-the-moment event.  Over the months prior to the actual filing, there is usually a period of stagnation, because the decisions to be made are difficult, costly and have a huge impact on the lives of the litigants.  Allocations of parenting time, schooling decisions, child support, alimony/spousal maintenance and the division of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of assets and debts all have to be reckoned with, all while the couple is under severe emotional stress. At the same time, the couple may also be attempting some actions to salvage the relationship.

As you can guess, it is somewhat contradictory to attempt to maximize your divorce position through planning while simultaneously attempting to salvage the relationship.

I've put together a few tips for those who haven't completely made up their minds on whether to really go through with it.

1.  If the marriage appears to be on its last legs, an experienced Kentucky divorce attorney should be consulted generally on issues of finance and custody.  The client should be prepared to answer some general questions about major asset values, rough account and investment balances, rough debt totals and whatever special circumstances are thought to apply to the case.   This initial meeting should take an hour or two, and the client should be prepared to make payment for that consultation.

2.  Counseling should be participated in to conclusion, which is usually marked by one party declining to attend or work on changing lifestyle, attitude or action.

3.  If there appears to be progress in counseling, I don't usually recommend making big "divorce-maximizing" financial or schooling changes.  At the same time, the couple should avoid incurring new obligations during this period - they shouldn't buy cars, houses, boats or expensive sports equipment, and they should keep gift-giving, meals out and any vacations at the expense levels that are consistent with a thriftier past. 

4.  Once counseling has collapsed, the attorney should be contacted again for specific advice tailored to the circumstances.  He may recommend immediate filing, or a period of some delay in which some actions may be taken which will halp a litigant maximize their results.  Once engaged, the attorney will need very specific documents - tax returns, account statements, paystubs, credit card bills, car titles, deeds, mortgage notes and the like.  In the Louisville area, using this period of time to consolidate a duplicate set of records will save a litigant time and money later on, and will be a good aid for the attorney rendering advice.

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