The average divorce in Maryland takes months to complete, and many divorces may take a year or longer to finalize. Technically, the divorce process begins when the spouses discuss the idea of divorce or one of them files paperwork with the family courts.
Every Maryland divorce needs to comply with state law. Divorcing spouses have the option of settling matters on their own or going to family court to have a judge rule on their disputes. Proper preparation can take some of the conflict out of a Maryland divorce and can also help someone develop realistic expectations for the divorce process.
How can people prepare for divorce before they file paperwork or talk with their spouses about their decision to move forward in this way?
Gathering financial records
Adequate financial documentation is crucial to a successful divorce. Even if there are no children involved and no need for financial support, financial records strongly influence the outcome of property division proceedings. Income tax returns, financial statements and ownership documents for various assets can be difficult to acquire in the throes of a high-conflict divorce. Those who gather key financial records before the divorce begins have a strong foundation for a reasonable legal strategy.
Developing separate resources
Technically, if someone starts a separate checking account during the marriage, the funds deposited in it are likely marital property. They may need to disclose the value of their separate financial accounts and the balance on any separate credit cards as part of the financial negotiations for the divorce. However, advance planning by establishing separate accounts can take a lot of the stress out of the process. The early days of divorce often see the closure of joint accounts. People may no longer have access to their household checking accounts or shared credit cards. Taking the time to establish separate financial resources can help someone manage daily responsibilities in the early stages of divorce.
Connecting with personal support
Depending on the insurance that someone carries and other factors, like their daily schedule, they may have to wait months to secure an appointment with a counselor or psychologist. Those who begin that intake process before they file for divorce may have more immediate access to professional support services when the tumultuous emotions of divorce eventually arise.
Unhealthy relationships often lead to people withdrawing from outside relationships. A struggling marriage might have meant that someone backed off from their friendships or communicated less with family members. Reaching out to rekindle those connections can help to ensure that someone has the direct personal support they require during a difficult time in their life.
Taking the time to prepare before initiating a divorce can help decrease how difficult the process will be and improve the overall outcome.