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Common divorce mistakes and how to avoid them

Even though you may be certain you are making the right decision and things will be better in the long run, there's still no question that divorce is a stressful time. Very few life events feel as overwhelming or complicated as ending a marriage. Not only do you have the division of assets, property and finances to worry about and child custody to figure out, but your emotions are almost certainly running high. At such a time, it may feel nearly impossible to keep track of everything.

It's not unusual for people going through divorce proceedings to overlook certain aspects. A family law attorney can definitely provide insight and guidance along the way, but there are still instances where you might forget something important or make a mistake. For this reason, some advisors recommend creating a simple divorce checklist to help you keep from making some of the more common mistakes.

A divorce checklist?

There are a number of common oversights that divorcing individuals tend to make. While this fact is understandable given the stress of the situation, you don't want to become a statistic. Consider creating a checklist of things you want to remember to do or avoid doing. You'll undoubtedly have your own bullet points, but may want to include the following items on your to-do list:

  • Make copies of all important financial documents in case these get misplaced or you lose access to them.
  • Pull your credit report to make sure you are aware of all debts you may have forgotten about or possibly didn't even know existed, for example, if your spouse took out a credit card in your name.
  • Sign up for a P.O. box and immediately redirect your mail because once you have begun the divorce process, you'll start receiving mail that you probably won't want your spouse reading.
  • Consider creating a new email account, or at least make sure to change all your passwords.
  • Map out the first year of your parenting schedule on a calendar since it may feel new and foreign, and it will be easy to mis-schedule or forget important dates.

If you don't have a will, now is a good time to consider one. If you have one, you will certainly want to update all beneficiaries. You'll also want to remember to change designated beneficiaries on your insurance policies, retirement and investment accounts to reflect your new wishes.

Anything else?

Another important consideration is making sure that all the money the divorce judgment entitles you to is actually transferred. For example, you'll have to follow through with something called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to actually get the retirement funds transferred to you.

A divorce lawyer can help you get a good idea of what to expect and identify some of the items you may want to gather or the paperwork you'll need. There's a lot at stake when you're ending your marriage, and common advice holds that professional legal assistance can prove invaluable in avoiding negative long-term consequences that might result from overlooking an important step or making a serious error. A West Virginia attorney with experience in family law can offer representation and personalized guidance to fit your situation.

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Joseph Brophy Cordell, Attorney at Law
115 1/2 West King Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Phone: 304-707-0673
Fax: 304-263-3378
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