Preparing for a Divorce in New York
Syracuse attorney advises clients on decisive steps to protect their rights
Getting blindsided by a divorce is not only emotionally devastating; it also puts you at a strategic disadvantage. Suddenly, you’re in the middle of a legal dispute that you’re totally unprepared for. That could mean financial hardship and a weak negotiating position for important issues like spousal support, child custody and the division of your marital property. At Bombardo Law Office, P.C., I have decades of experience helping clients ready themselves for New York divorce proceedings. If you are heading for a divorce, preparation is one of the keys to a favorable outcome.
Obtain copies of your financial statements
Many clients come to me without any knowledge of their spouse’s finances. This makes it difficult to know if their spouse is hiding assets or underreporting income, which could cheat them out of property and support payments. Moreover, because they often come to me after their spouse has filed for divorce, their spouse may have already safely hidden away significant assets.
To prevent this from happening, you need to access financial records as soon as possible. You should gather as much financial information as you can, such as:
- Tax returns for the last couple of years
- Credit card, bank and mortgage statements
- Loan statements
- Pension, retirement fund, IRA and 401(k) statements
It’s also helpful to compile a list of valuables that might have to be appraised.
These documents will help your divorce lawyer understand the scope of your marital estate and can provide clues to help your case. For example, cash withdrawals can indicate a spouse is either hiding money or dissipating the marital estate. Often, extravagant spending is evidence of adultery, a substance abuse problem or a gambling addiction. Whatever the reason for disappearance of funds, you are entitled to recover your share.
Prepare a budget
Once either of you files for divorce, your household expenses will increase substantially because someone will be living somewhere else. You may find yourself in need of support or obligated to pay it. As such, you should create a budget to account for this new scenario.
Keep a log or diary
If you have children, you improve your chances of getting physical custody if you can prove you are their primary caretaker. Document your involvement with your children by noting when you drive them to school and activities, take them to doctors’ appointments and otherwise tend to their basic needs.
Child custody and child support payments
Before you decide what kind of custody arrangement you want, you need to understand the pros and cons of each possibility. You are going to pay either with your time or money. In general, the more time you spend with your kids, the less support you have to pay. But does your schedule allow for that time? Everything has to be budgeted.
Contemplate your living situation
If you own a home and have children, consider how the divorce will impact everyone’s living situation. Most often, the parent who is the primary caretaker will remain in the home with the children and the other parent will find another place to live. If that other residence is suitable for the children, then joint physical custody is possible. However, not every parent who moves out can afford a place that is appropriate for kids. You also have to consider how the extra rent or mortgage will impact your discretionary income. There may be budget cuts to make, such as cable and landscaping services.
Contact an experienced Syracuse attorney for divorce counsel
Bombardo Law Office, P.C. in Syracuse represents Central New York clients in divorce and child custody disputes. Please call 315-800-4002 or contact me online to schedule a meeting to discuss your legal options.