Divorce is often a traumatic experience due to the numerous legal issues a couple has to deal with and the emotional and financial discomfort related to marriage termination. With this in mind, before completing divorce papers online in Michigan people opt for compiling a checklist of things to take care of, so they can go through marriage dissolution in the most efficient and time-saving manner. If you are also looking for such a checklist, the one described below may serve as a good template.
What to Know Before You File for Divorce?
Keep in mind that every divorce case is unique. Some couples have minor children and must wait at least 6 months until a divorce can be finalized, while partners without kids can end their relationships after a 60-day waiting period. Some spouses can negotiate crucial issues without involving the judge, while others are less cooperative, so filing for an uncontested divorce isn’t an option for them. If you are going to terminate your marriage, you can start divorce preparation with the divorce list of things to do. Besides, consider contacting a lawyer if you have any questions concerning separate and community property, child custody, etc.
Divorce Preparation Checklist
Collecting multiple documents, making and notarizing copies, and preparing information about your kids may seem daunting, but it is an inevitable stage of divorce proceedings. To get ready for your divorce, follow the checklist provided below:
Collect Divorce Documents
The first stage of any divorce is searching for and preparing the necessary papers for the case. The standard forms you need to fill out are:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Acceptance of Service
- Financial Affidavit
Please note that a set of documents is always case-specific. It means there may be additional forms related to property and asset division, child custody and support, etc. It is important to find out in advance what documents should be prepared for your particular case.
Prepare Personal Information
The list of personal data you need to submit to the court includes, but is not limited to:
- Basic information – full name, date of birth, and social security number.
- Contact information – address, phone number(s), email address.
- A certified copy of a marriage certificate.
- Proof of residency.
- Employer’s name and contacts.
- Information about previous marriage(s).
- Information about kid(s) from previous marriages, their full names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.
- Wedding details, namely date and place of marriage.
- The name of the spouse’s divorce lawyer, if there is any.
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, if any.
Prepare Financial Information
To ensure your finances and property will be divided fairly, be ready to prepare the documents concerning finances.
This is the list of documents on tax and income you need to collect before filing for divorce:
- Bank statement for all accounts.
- Trust documents.
- 401(k) statement/retirement account statement for both spouses.
- Pension statement.
- Digital wallets and other online account statements.
- Credit card statement for all cards.
- Federal, state, and local tax returns for the last 5 years.
- Business tax return for business owners for the last 5 years.
- Proofs of income for both spouses.
- Employment contract for both spouses.
The information on real estate you will need to provide to the court includes the following:
- Legal description and cost of the real estate owned together or separately.
- Current mortgage statements.
- Tax assessor’s statements for real estate.
- Records of ownership of rental and/or vacation property.
Besides, it is necessary to prepare all automobile-related documents, such as titles and registration of all types of vehicles owned jointly and separately, and insurance policies for all vehicles.
Do not forget to collect life insurance documents, including the statement of insurance policies on your life, your partner’s, or child’s life, either as an individual policy or a policy through an employer.
It is important to prepare information on other financial aspects, such as medical bills, college tuition, fees for extra-curricular activities, documents describing the inherited property and assets by every spouse, etc.
Remember that financial matters may evoke disputes, especially if a divorce is contested. Therefore, it is paramount to collect as many documents as possible to defend your rights.
Information on Your Children
If a couple has children, they must decide on child custody and support during the divorce process. Parents need to prepare:
- Certified copy of a child’s birth certificate
- Declaration of paternity filed with Bureau of Vital Records (Unmarried parents have to confirm paternity first)
They also need to file, among other forms:
- Child support worksheet
- Parenting class completion certificate
- Complaint for custody, elaborating on the parenting schedule and parenting plan.
- Verified Statement
- Application for IV-D Child Support Services
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution
Unresolved issues between spouses usually lead to a contested divorce. This type of marriage dissolution will not only drain your financial resources but can also severely impact your physical and physiological health. Therefore, it would be wise to agree with your spouse on all major points before starting the divorce process. If it’s difficult to come to an agreement, don’t hesitate to hire accredited mediators or arbitrators for help.
While a mediator isn’t empowered to give spouses legal advice, they can suggest a mutually-beneficial way out of different misunderstandings. Mediation is a budget-friendly method to turn a contested divorce into an uncontested one.
One more option is arbitration. Here, a certified attorney will study your case, take into account the opinions of both parties, and offer legal solutions to the contested issues. An arbitrator may invite other experts, especially when it comes to evaluating the amount of custody support or alimony.
Protect Your Privacy
Even if you have a relatively amicable marriage dissolution, it is still important to take precautionary measures and keep your documents in a safe place. Besides, it is recommended to change your passwords to personal and financial accounts using a secure computer. Moreover, you should log off your shared cloud services and emails.
|Personal Information||Financial Information||Information on Your Children|
|Basic information – full name, date of birth, and social security number.||Bank statement for all accounts.||Declaration of paternity filed with Bureau of Vital Records (Unmarried parents have to confirm paternity first)|
|Contact information – address, phone number(s), email address.||Trust documents.||Child support worksheet|
|A certified copy of a marriage certificate.||401(k) statement/retirement account statement for both spouses.||Parenting class completion certificate|
|Proof of residency.||Pension statement.||Complaint for custody, elaborating on the parenting schedule and parenting plan.|
|Employer’s name and contacts.||Digital wallets and other online account statements.||Verified Statement|
|Information about previous marriage(s).||Credit card statement for all cards.||Application for IV-D Child Support Services|
|Information about kid(s) from previous marriages, their full names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.||Federal, state, and local tax returns for the last 5 years.||Summons|
|Wedding details, namely date and place of marriage.||Business tax return for business owners for the last 5 years.||Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit|
|The name of the spouse’s divorce lawyer, if there is any.||Proofs of income for both spouses.|
|Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, if any.||Employment contract for both spouses.|
After the divorce is officially finalized, you may wonder what to do next. Here is a checklist of things to do after divorce:
- Open a new bank account and get a new credit card in your name.
- Transfer titles on all vehicles that will be your sole possessions.
- Change beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement account, and retirement plans.
- Update your estate plan.
- Purchase new health insurance or get COBRA for continual health insurance.
- Verify health insurance coverage for your children.
- Complete the paperwork if you want to change your last name.
Many things to do after divorce are related to financial matters. Dealing with topics pertaining to money can be very confusing, so you may need to hire a financial consultant who will analyze your assets, compare income and expenses, measure debts, and suggest the most advantageous ways to invest your funds.
With the detailed after-divorce checklist at hand, you can better understand where to move after separating from your ex.
Erik Smith is a well-known divorce specialist and writer at midivorcepapers.com with a background in marriage counseling and therapy. Having worked with countless couples, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his writing.