A divorce lawyer on things to think about before you foreclose on your marriage

Before you foreclose on your marriage,

here are six things to think about:

1) What will happen to the children? You have to really think about that and weigh that. Keep in mind that both parents have an equal right to custody of the children. So if you want custody, be prepared to demonstrate why you would make a better custodial parent. But stop short of defamation and untruthful allegations against your spouse. Consider that joint custody is the optimal choice; however, if your circumstances just don’t support this as a viable option, think about a parenting plan that would work for both parents, but most of all, that would be healthy for the child.
2) Follow the money trail – Start to think about where all the money is at before you start to think about divorce. Seriously. Until you figure you have a good idea where the money is dispersed, don’t play your hand and tell or show that you are thinking about divorce because it gives the other side time to financially maneuver the money to your detriment.
3) Consider mediation rather than litigation. Before you go out and hire the bulldog, cutthroat attorney, think about whether you really want to spend all your money lining the pockets of every divorce professional within a 20 mile radius, or whether both you and your husband have the wherewithal to work this thing out like grown ups who are not blood-thirsty, dishonest and avaricious. Because if you can’t, you are looking at a huge chunk of your money going to line the pockets of lawyers, financial analysts, accountants, PIs, and a whole bunch of other people and you are not going to end up with anything more than you will if you work this out and negotiate fairly and honestly with each other from the get go.
4) Pull out the prenup, dust it off and take it to an attorney for evaluation – will it pass muster? If not, what can you do about it? Before you agree to anything, take another hard look at the prenup. What does it really say? What does it really call for you and your spouse to do? When you signed it, did you understand it? Where and when did you sign it? If you bloody well know that you signed in good faith and there was disclosure and everything was on the up and up, then don’t make a big stink about it. Man up (or woman up) and live by your contract. If you’ve been robbed, however, prepare to fight. Gather your evidence and make it clear you’re prepared to go all the way unless the other side comes clean and plays fair.
5) Interview at least four different lawyers before you make a decision which one to hire. Ask them all the same questions and see which answers you like best. Read body language. Observe the assistants, secretaries and the whole office situation. If you don’t like something, trust your instincts.
6) What debts are you and your spouse likely to be responsible for? What is your debt to income ratio? Debts are a big issue in divorce these days because of the recession. The one thing you don’t want is to be left holding the bag if you can avoid it. Is your home likely to go into foreclosure? Are there huge credit card bills? Medical bills? Educational loans in default? Think about how you can minimize your responsibility and liability before you even talk about the divorce. Try to get your name off of things, or draw up an agreement about how debts will be handled in the event of a divorce. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for all the debt incurred during your marriage and this will be disastrous for your credit, and for the quality of your life post-divorce, quite frankly.