Rules of Separation in Marriage
We sat down with several professionals in Reno, NV to get the scoop on Divorce in Washoe County. Getting divorced is not something that most of us do twice. So, as first-timers, with no experience, we enter into a state of upheaval as we fall into one of the million U.S. divorces this year. In this tangled web you are likely to find yourself pitted against someone who was once your closest ally. And the rules of engagement are secret and complex. Something is wrong with this picture! This list will provide a little extra help as you prepare for the next chapter of your life.
1. Be sure of this decision, 100%
Breaking those marriage vows can be hellish for you and your spouse and even become traumatic for your kids. So, before you get this ball rolling, ask yourself this question: “Did I genuinely do everything I could to make this marriage last?” This is not a path you want to go down if you have failed to explore all possible options like; did you combat your personal struggles, did you seek marriage counseling? This process will be a little more manageable if you are confident about this.
2. Once your decision is made, get at it
Now that you’re confident in your decision for divorce, do everything in your power to separate your emotions that divorce can thrust upon anyone going through it. Try to treat this in a businesslike manner so you can remain clear and calm. Remain focused on a fair outcome for both you and your ex, and try to keep spite and malice out of it.
3. Your ex is probably not out of your life forever
We often hear from others who are divorced, “I can’t stand her!” or “I never want to see him again!” You have to remember that was part of what motivated you to get a divorce. The bad behaviors you lived with don’t just disappear when you separate. The buttons they used to press when you were married may still get triggered, and sometimes even more so after you split. If you share children, this person will always play a role in your life. Make sure that your actions paint an honest picture of your character. Do your best to let it go and not let it get to you anymore. Easier said than done; it takes practice.
4. Talk to people who have gone through a divorce
Do you have friends or co-workers that have been in your shoes? Talking with them can help you envision an accurate post-divorce reality. They can fill you in on the process and tell you about some of the valuable lessons they learned along the way.
5. Think about how you’re going to tell her/him
Is your spouse aware that divorce is at the forefront of your mind? Try to anticipate how your spouse will react to the news. Tell your partner in a calm and clear manner after giving this some thought. Be prepared, have a bag packed and a place to stay, in case either of you need some time alone. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek professional help to advise you.
6. Don’t self-medicate
This journey may be one of the hardest in your life, but you must not forget that this would be the worst possible time to self-medicate. Drugs, prescribed or not, alcohol, sex with the wrong people can have a devastating effect on your divorce and even your life. They may temporarily numb you, but in time you will feel worse. They can even threaten your custody plan. Keep on, you can do this!
7. Finish what you started
We get it, you want to move on with your life. That will come in time. Right now, you need to avoid the temptation of withdrawing and becoming a bystander in your divorce. If you give in, expect to walk away with less than you deserve. Make your own decisions after listening to your lawyer. Your new life awaits on the other side, put in the work.
8. Whatever you do, Don’t Date
When you start dating someone new before the marriage officially over, you can create a plethora of additional legal issues to wade through. Despite Nevada being a no-fault divorce state, that new boyfriend or girlfriend could cost you in alimony. Let’s say the supported spouse gets a new relationship and they move in with their new romantic partner, who is financially supporting them, the paying spouse can petition the court to modify or terminate the alimony payments. If you’re reading this little gem after the fact, seriously consider taking a break until the paperwork is complete.
9. Where are you going to call home?
Is your current home an option? If so, can you afford to stay in it? Even so, make sure to check out prices in the area you want to live, with the features you (and your children / if you have them) will need. If you don’t already have a working budget, put one together. Break it down into a weekly, monthly & yearly to provide you with a good roadmap.
10. Don’t look backward
During a divorce, it can sometimes be hard to stop fixating on your ex’s faults and the pain he or she has inflicted. Doing so does not bring you any value and can derail a positive outcome. This decision was made to give you a better life. Living in bitterness will not help you get the life you want. Keep looking forward, you are getting closer to the goal.
11. Find your lawyer
Going through a divorce can be overwhelming. You need an experienced divorce attorney or mediator by your side. Research and interview at least two attorneys in your area and carefully decide which one is right for you. Consider the message you’ll send by who you choose to represent you. Your decision can be a declaration of war if your lawyer is known for a vicious fight.
12. Can’t we all just get along?
Do you have a divorce budget set aside? Say $15,000 to $30,000? According to an article on Forbes.com the average cost of a contested divorce ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. If that just took the air out of your lungs, rest assured there are other options. Have you considered a mediator? They facilitate agreements you and your ex-spouse make together and don’t work on behalf of either party. If you think you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement on what’s fair, a mediator might be the best avenue.
13. Let’s talk about the children
It’s important to consider how important this parent is to your child/ children. They need to understand that they are loved by both parents and that is not going to change even when the family dynamic does. It is very important to watch your kids’ actions and behaviors and not just go by what they say or don’t say. Watch for signs of depression or increased sibling rivalry. Check in with them consistently, what are they thinking? How are they feeling? Do they have questions? Keep communication going.
14. Divorce requires some proof
Start a divorce file that contains all documents that could impact your divorce proceedings. The better organized your files are, the less money you’ll be paying your lawyer to organize. It will also increase the probability of a fair judgment as a result of having all facts brought to light.
15. What proof?
Many marriages consist of one person handling all the bills. If that is the case in your marriage and that was not you, it’s time to do your homework. If that was you, you’re in a good position as you head into proceedings. You will need:
- copies of all important financial documents
- assets and debts
- 3-5 years of tax returns
- mortgages and property tax documents
- copies of the last 12 months of bills for recurring household
- expenses (utilities, school tuition, kids activities)
- wills, trusts, power of attorney and any medical directives
- social security estimates for both parties
- insurance policies
- employment provided benefits and contracts for both parties
- recent pay stubs for the both of you
- retirement /pension statements and stock options
- recent credit card statements and any other loans
- recent credit reports for both parties
- accounting of any personal property you owned prior to the marriage
- that’s it!
16. Pay off credit cards
The ramifications of credit card balances from the marriage could become your responsibility and may result in years of payments or blemishes on your credit, if not resolved before the divorce. Many people don’t realize that credit card companies aren’t bound by divorce decrees, so they can go after you for jointly incurred debt if your ex fails to pay. That is why it is important to pay them off before the divorce if possible.
Do you want your fair share of the assets? The judge is not going to make determinations off guesstimations or the price paid, you’ll need to have current market value. Get your home and other assets professionally evaluated before you split.
18. Don’t let your home bury you
This is the hard one, your home. Who isn’t sentimental about their biggest purchase? Many people make the mistake of keeping their home and giving up all other assets. Later down the line, they realize they don’t have the income to keep them in that home. This decision needs to be made with your head and not your heart. It wouldn’t hurt to see if Reno Area Home Buyer can help.
19. Change your mailing address
If your spouse is staying in the home you shared, you need to open a post office box and start updating your mailing address immediately. Failure to skip this step could result in the loss of many important documents. Additionally, if you haven’t broken the news to your soon-to-be-ex, you don’t need the postman to bring the news!
20. Hide the valuables
We know this sounds kind of sneaky. But, if you’re the one moving out, do you know how destructive your spouse can be? Remember, you may have limited access to the home you shared. If you leave those heirlooms, mementos, photos or irreplaceable items of personal significance with your hurt spouse… Are you confident that these items won’t see their fair share of pain?
21. Separate your finances
You need to open a new checking and savings account at a separate bank from the one you share a joint account with your soon-to-be-ex. That way you are less likely to alert the spouse of your plans for divorce before you are ready. This is the time to get a credit card in only your name if you don’t have one already. This step is important so that you can establish your credit history by making consistent small purchases and payments.
22. Stacking paper
The reality that divorce is expensive has probably set in by now. Not only do you have legal fees to contend with, but you will be the sole provider for your household instead of having a teammate pitch in. It’s time to stack that cash into the new account you just established in step 21.
23. Who gets what?
Nevada is a community property state, which means that the division of property is typically 50-50. There are very few items the court won’t divide; inheritances and personal property obtained prior to marriage that was maintained solely with one party’s money. Dividing property during a Nevada divorce can get complex, especially when an inheritance or other gift is a factor. Having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side can smooth out the process. File all supporting records in your divorce file.
24. Look into health insurance coverage options
Who is currently handling your family’s health coverage? If it came from their employer, you can usually stay in that plan for up to three years. But depending on your agreement, either you or your spouse will be picking up the tab. Remember: You have to apply within 60 days of your legal separation or divorce to qualify for these COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) benefits.
25. Make necessary big purchases
In Nevada, an automatic financial restraining order will be issued once a divorce is filed, which prohibits people from making large purchases or liquidating assets. If your car is on its last leg, or you don’t think it will make it the next couple of years, now’s the time to upgrade.
26. Update your living will
You won’t be able to completely remove your spouse from your will until your divorce is finalized. However, you may want to consider taking steps to remove them to the extent that Nevada allows in the meantime. If something were to happen to you during the divorce proceedings, taking this step would help ensure that the majority of your money will go to your kids and not your former spouse. While you’re at it, you may want to ensure that your soon-to-be-former spouse can decide whether to turn off life support in the advent of a serious injury or coma.
27. Be transparent with your assets
After reading about community property, you may be tempted to hide your assets. It’s illegal, and, if your attempts to deceive your spouse are discovered you could face stiff penalties and fines. Not to mention the loss of credibility in the eyes if the law. A better tactic for protecting yourself and your property is to declare all assets upfront.
28. Don’t underestimate your living expenses
Keep records of what you spend on housing, childcare, insurance, utilities, groceries, fuel, kids activities, clothing, and car payments so that you have an accurate idea of what things cost. Doing this will help you maintain quality of life after a divorce.
29. Get qualified
If you have been staying home taking care of the kids and the house, don’t expect to continue doing so. If your spouse has been the main breadwinner, don’t be too hopeful about a payout. Courts can expect you to be working if your kids are school-aged and you are not of retirement age or disabled. Updating your education will provide you options if things don’t go your way in a settlement.
30. Pick your battles
Make a prioritized list of what you want to come away with, so you don’t find yourself fighting to keep assets you don’t really want. It’s much easier to do this in the planning stage vs when emotions are running high. It’s very likely that your opinion of your former spouse will hit an all-time low very soon.
31. Child Custody
Nevada child custody laws favor joint custody. In Reno, Nevada, the courts presume that joint custody—rather than sole custody—is in the best interests of the child. Hiring an experienced custody law attorney can mean the difference between a judge awarding primary physical custody or joint physical custody. Their familiarity with the factors and how significant they are to the court will greatly impact the outcome.
32. Keep a childcare log
It will benefit you down the line, to keep a detailed record who does what with the children. Write down who takes them to daycare, school, their appointments and attends their extracurricular activities, school functions and parent-teacher conferences, keep this information of the children section of your divorce file. If there’s a dispute between you and your spouse with regard to taking care of children, you will once again have proof.
33. Obtain any police reports
Hopefully, this section does not pertain to you. If applicable, make copies of any police reports or drug evaluations that can show a court why your ex should not have custody of your children and store these documents in a safe place away from the home.
34. Dress for success
We know you’ve spent a lot of money up to this point. But, you’ll regret it if you don’t invest in your appearance for court. Note, we didn’t say dress sexy, keep it neutral and accessories to a minimum. It can boost your confidence. The result of that boost is that you’ll likely feel better and fair better with the judge.
35. There are no guarantees
You should expect the best outcome from a divorce, at the same time, you should prepare for things to not go your way. Keeping this in mind will help you through this challenging process and motivate you to get organized. Do all the preparation you can which will improve your chances of beginning the next phase of your life in as good a frame of mind as possible.