Shortly after you or your spouse retain a divorce attorney and file for divorce, a helpful first step is to set up temporary orders. This will establish some ground rules and outline how your family will manage its financial and personal affairs during the divorce process. Temporary orders will establish such things as who pays the household expenses, how each spouse should behave, where the children and the spouses will live, when will the children spend time with each parent, etc.
Working out the details of the temporary orders can often be accomplished in a joint meeting with you and your spouse and your attorneys. If there is significant disagreement on the terms of the orders, the court will set a hearing in the matter
Before you schedule a meeting with your spouse and both your attorneys, or attend a hearing on the matter, you will need to meet with your attorney in advance and discuss your concerns and questions on what to expect. Here are some of the typical areas of discussion:
- Should any assets owned by either spouse be frozen by the court?
- Whether family members should attend counseling?
- Should the orders prohibit the change of health or life insurance benefits or beneficiaries?
- Whether a custody evaluation should be ordered?
- Should the court limit spending or access to liquid assets owned by either spouse?
- Is domestic violence an issue?
If there will be a court hearing, prepare information on your children for the judge. A recent photo of each child with his or her name, current age, and grade in school on the back. You will likely need to have a written proposed parenting schedule that indicates when children will spend time with each parent. Give your attorney a copy of their school calendar to share with the court, if necessary. Be prepared to tell your attorney or the court about your children’s activities and parental needs around those activities.
You will need to gather a tremendous amount of information together during the divorce process. Couples quickly discover they need to be highly organized. You may want to gather and organize required information and key documents. For example, you may want to create a folder for the children, one for family income and expenses, and another for assets and debts. Often attorneys will offer you forms to use in compiling this information. Then, review the documents with your attorney before attending any meetings or hearings.
Identify sources of income, and all current expenses for the family. You can pull this information from monthly bill statements, tax forms, bank statements, credit card statements and pay stubs. You may want to get credit reports for each spouse to add to your folders. An expense budget for yourself and your spouse will be an important document to prepare. You and your attorney can determine if child support for one parent is required.
Now, prepare an inventory of all household assets and debts. Determine which assets are separate property and which are community property. Also let your attorney know if you expect any issues or disagreements with your spouse over certain items that are likely to be included in the temporary orders.
If you will be going to court for a temporary orders hearing, discuss what to expect with your attorney. You will want to be early and dress appropriately. Make sure you know where the courthouse is so can arrive, park and walk to the correct courtroom without stress.
As you can see, you will play a very important role in your divorce process. It is in your best interest to quickly gather, organize and provide your attorney with all the information he or she needs in order to achieve the best possible outcome for you.