If you are a naturally organized person, you are sure to have great ideas about how to organize all of the information you will gather and need as you work your way through the divorce process. For those of us who are less organized, here are a few tips to help you get everything you need in one easily accessible place.
Purchase a three ring binder, preferably one that is a few inches thick, notebook paper and folders with holes to be used in your binder. You need file labels for your folders, too. Often, these can be purchased as a set to save you a little cash.
Begin by labeling your folders. You may choose to have a folder for assets, debts, personal information (it can be handy to have a folder for each person, so the information can be found quickly), income, tax returns, correspondence (include any emails, texts or letters from your spouse, either lawyer, or the court) insurance information, retirement plans, medical information and anything else you want to keep track of.
You will need full names, addresses, birthday and social security numbers for you, your spouse and your children. If you choose to keep the original documents, be sure to make copies and give them to your spouse. Social Security cards and birth certificates must be well-guarded to avoid identity theft. Other personal information might be medical issues, such as allergies or surgeries that your children have had. This information is not necessarily needed for your divorce, but will be helpful for you as you start your new life.
As you gather your information, be sure to file it properly as soon as you find it. Leaving it to do later might result in the loss of something very important. Some people have even added a blank folder to their notebooks so they can stash away information and file it when they have more time.
Take your notebook with you when you have appointments with your lawyer, your spouse or a court date. You will be much less anxious if you know you have everything you need right at your fingertips. All of this information will be required as you fill out your divorce papers and work towards a settlement with your spouse.
You will be able to jot down any questions you may have or situations you need to discuss with your divorce attorney. Since lawyers charge by the hour, the quicker you remember everything you needed to talk about, the cheaper your visit will be.
Few people love to organize, but in the case of divorce, a few hours of organizing can save you a lot of money and help you get what you want and need in your divorce settlement. If you don’t have the information your attorney needs, he/she will have to pay someone to find it – and then charge you for the extra hours. No matter how much you dislike the idea, a few hours of digging through your files can be the best hours you spend during the divorce process.
If you are currently involved in a divorce and require legal guidance, before you spend thousands of dollars in legal fees, check out our free 7-Day “Divorce 101” course. Sign up below and you’ll immediately start receiving tips and guidance you can use to minimize the pain and time required to get through the divorce process.