Getting divorced requires careful consideration of a variety of different issues. While you can never plan for everything that will happen during a divorce, taking the time to consider the important issues upfront can help to streamline the process and reduce the likelihood of unexpected challenges along the way.
As with many things in life, planning and preparation are key when it comes to getting divorced. Here are 10 important issues you will want to consider upfront to get ready for the process to come:
1. Which of Your Assets Qualify as Separate and Marital Property?
When going through a divorce in Arizona, you need to differentiate between your “separate” and “marital” property. Separate assets are yours (or your spouse’s) to keep, while marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. Generally speaking, assets acquired before the marriage date are separate property, while assets acquired during the marriage are marital property. But, there are some exceptions, and you will need to make sure you classify all property appropriately.
2. Which of Your Marital Assets are Most Important to You?
Once you identify your separate and marital property, the next step is to determine which marital assets are most important to you. Neither spouse gets to keep everything in a divorce, so you will need to prioritize.
This applies to all property types—from real estate to photo albums and from cars to retirement accounts. While some assets can be split (i.e., a 401(k)) or duplicated (i.e., a digital photo library), others will become either your or your former spouse’s property once your divorce is final.
3. Which of Your Marital Assets are Most Important to Your Spouse?
In addition to considering your own priorities, you should consider your spouse’s priorities as well. To the extent that your priorities differ, this should help to facilitate a smooth equitable distribution process. Where your priorities overlap, you will need to think carefully about what you want to do, and you will need to work with your attorney to build a strategy that best serves your overall goals.
4. Are You or Your Spouse Likely to Receive Alimony?
In Arizona, alimony is only awarded under five specific sets of circumstances. We encourage you to review these sets of circumstances and determine if any of them are likely to apply to your divorce. If so, then alimony will be a key issue in your divorce, and you will need to work with your attorney to ensure an appropriate calculation. This will require consideration of your current standard of living, your and your spouse’s respective incomes, your respective earning capacities, and other factors.
5. What Custody Options Make the Most Sense for Your Family?
If you have children from your marriage, child custody will be a key issue in your divorce. In Arizona, all child custody arrangements must reflect the best interests of the children involved. There are several options, and you will need to think carefully about which options make the most sense for your family.
While most divorcing parents develop joint custody arrangements under which each parent spends time with their children separately, sole custody and co-parenting are also options under appropriate circumstances.
6. How Likely are You and Your Spouse to Have Disagreements?
Some divorcing couples are more prone to disagreements than others. If you and your spouse are likely to have conflicting interests throughout much of your divorce, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the process will be contentious, but this is a factor you will want to consider during the planning phase. If you can anticipate potential disputes and begin thinking about resolutions that might work for you and your spouse, you can help reduce the risk of any disputes delaying or derailing the process.
7. What Method(s) Will Be Best for Resolving Disagreements?
While divorcing spouses and their attorneys will often be able to resolve disagreements informally, in some cases, it will be necessary to seek outside help. Is mediation a good option for you and your spouse? Does it make sense to consider a collaborative law divorce? Or, is it possible that you might need to prepare for divorce litigation?
8. Do You Have the Records You Will Need During the Divorce Process?
You will need various records for purposes of your divorce. This includes income and tax records, bank and retirement account statements, property titles, loan agreements, insurance policies, and several other forms of documentation. It can take time to track all of these records down, so it is a good idea to start making copies now if you are seriously considering a divorce.
9. Do You Have Concerns about What Your Spouse Might Do?
Hopefully, this will not be an issue, but if you have concerns that your spouse might act inappropriately during your divorce, these are not concerns you should ignore. For example, if you think your spouse might attempt to hide assets or block your access to shared accounts, these are issues you will want to address proactively with the help of an attorney.
10. Do You Have Reasonable Expectations?
Finally, when preparing to go through a divorce, it is important to have reasonable expectations. You don’t want to expect too much, but you also don’t expect too little. If you assume that your spouse will get the better of the divorce process (which should not be the case), you will set yourself up for an unfavorable result—and you may end up overlooking opportunities to achieve the outcomes you desire.
Schedule a Free Divorce Consultation at Weingart Family Law
If you are considering a divorce in Arizona and would like to speak with an attorney about starting the process, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Phoenix divorce lawyer at Weingart Family Law, please call 480-542-0099 or request an appointment online today.