☐ Fill out a Divorce Worksheet to get organized.
Whether you are initiating the divorce process or responding to documents filed by your spouse, a Divorce Worksheet helps you to identify important information and provides a way for you to organize that information in one place.
Additionally, a Divorce Worksheet can be used as a reference guide to help ensure that you have vital documents and records, such as health insurance policy numbers, retirement account information, real estate ownership documents, and life insurance policies, available when you are expected to present them. Organizing your information can often save you time and money when you are ready to talk to a lawyer.
☐ Create a Parenting Plan.
Many courts require parents to submit a Parenting Plan as part of the divorce process. Even if the court does not mandate the submission of a Parenting Plan, it is a good idea to create one because it increases the likelihood of positive co-parenting after the divorce is finalized.
A Parenting Plan typically designates legal custody of any children, states where any children are to live the majority of the time, and sets forth a parenting time schedule indicating when the child may spend time with the either parent. A comprehensive plan also covers how children split their time during holidays, birthdays, and times when they are not in school, and how to resolve disputes or special events.
In addition to making a schedule for the parents to use post-divorce, a Parenting Plan may also cover things such as child support, decision-making authority, healthcare expenses for the children, and conflict resolution strategies.
☐ Write a Child Visitation Letter.
When it comes time for a child to spend parenting time with the non-custodial parent, a Child Visitation Letter can help the process run smoothly and decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflicts.
A Child Visitation Letter sets forth details about an upcoming visit, including the start and end time for the visit, who is responsible for transporting the child, and whether any special activities are planned during the visit.
The use of a Child Visitation Letter can be especially helpful if there have been previous issues relating to visitation or if one parent refuses to adhere to the parenting time schedule in the Parenting Plan approved by the court during the divorce.
☐ Send a Demand for Child Support Payment.
When the parents of a minor child get divorced, the law requires both parents to continue to contribute financially to the child post-divorce. Typically, this means that one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other parent. If the parent ordered to pay child support (the payor) falls behind on the payments, the parent entitled to receive the support (the payee) may wish to send a Demand for Child Support Payment.
A Demand for Child Support Payment may include the amount of child support included in the original court order, the amount the payor is behind (the “arrears”), and a request to bring the child support account current. If a parent is obligated to pay additional expenses related to the child, such as the cost of daycare, health insurance, or extracurricular activities, a Demand for Child Support Payment can help get those expenses paid for or reimbursed.
Sending a Demand for Child Support Payment letter to the payor serves two important purposes. First, it offers a non-judicial way to remind the payor of their financial obligation pursuant to the terms of the divorce decree. Second, if you do have to resort to the court system to collect the past-due child support payments, the letter may act as documentation of your efforts to collect the arrears.
☐ Request alimony properly with a Demand for Alimony Payment.
Alimony is a legal obligation imposed by a court during a divorce that requires one spouse to continue supporting the other spouse after the divorce. If you were awarded alimony during a divorce, yet have not received a payment, you may wish to send a Demand for Alimony Payment.
State law determines whether alimony (also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance) is allowed and, if so, what type of alimony is available. An alimony award might provide for ongoing payments, come in the form of a lump sum payment, cover expenses such as education or healthcare, or be structured as a combination of these options.
A Demand for Alimony Payment reminds a former spouse of their alimony obligation and serves as notice that payment has not been received. It can also provide a compliance deadline after which legal action can be initiated if the payment has not been received.
☐ Update your estate plan and beneficiaries.
People often overlook the importance of updating an estate plan and reviewing beneficiaries when they go through a divorce. This can be problematic because your former spouse is likely named as a beneficiary or fiduciary throughout your estate plan.
To avoid having your ex-spouse inherit from your estate or end up making decisions for you, be sure to update estate planning documents, including your Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and any insurance policies. Note that you may wish to wait until after the divorce is final to review insurance policies as your Divorce Settlement Agreement may include a provision that requires you and your spouse to retain insurance naming each other as the beneficiary.
If you are unsure about how to handle any issues related to custody or support during or after your divorce, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.