Ultimate Divorce Checklist [2024]: Are You Prepared for the Process?

Going through a divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time. Your whole life is about to change – your financial situation, living arrangements, and family structure. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed about where even to start.

That’s why having a comprehensive divorce checklist is so important. It provides a clear roadmap of all the steps you need to take to prepare yourself both logistically and emotionally fully.

Follow this checklist, and you’ll be ready to navigate the divorce process with confidence, protect your rights and assets, and start fresh in your new life after divorce.

Step 1: Consult with a Divorce Attorney in South Carolina

The very first thing you should do when considering divorce is to meet with a family law attorney. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you on your rights and options under South Carolina divorce laws.

Here are some of the key things a lawyer can help with:

  • Explain the five grounds for divorce in SC—adultery, physical cruelty, abandonment, habitual drunkenness, and one-year separation.
  • Determine which ground applies to your situation.
  • Review the divorce procedures and paperwork required to file with the court.
  • Develop a strategy for the division of assets and debts.
  • Advise on child custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.
  • Represent you in negotiations and court proceedings.

Having an attorney experienced in South Carolina divorce law ensures your interests are protected each step of the way. Don’t go through this alone.

Step 2: Gather Important Financial and Legal Documents

To divide property fairly, you need to locate all your financial information. This includes:

  • Federal and state tax returns for the past 3-5 years
  • Bank, investment, and retirement account statements
  • Mortgage loan and home equity line documents
  • Car loan and lease agreements
  • Credit card statements
  • Life insurance policies with cash value
  • Documentation of stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • Business partnership, operating, and valuation documents
  • Wills, trusts, and estate planning documents

Compiling these documents allows you and your lawyer to value assets, determine incomes, and start negotiating a settlement. Having organized financial records also speeds up the disclosure process.

Step 3: Update Accounts, Beneficiaries, and Legal Documents

While your divorce is pending, it’s important to make some changes to protect your interests:

  • Change passwords on email, social media, and financial accounts.
  • Remove your spouse as an authorized user on credit cards and bank accounts.
  • Update beneficiaries on insurance policies, pensions, 401ks, and IRAs.
  • Modify estate planning documents like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
  • Cancel any joint gym memberships, streaming services, etc.

Making these updates prevents your soon-to-be ex-spouse from accessing accounts or remaining as a beneficiary out of spite during a bitter divorce. Don’t delay on this.

Step 4: Secure Important Possessions and Documents

You’ll want to gather up any valuables, heirlooms, or personal property that you want to keep:

  • Retrieve family photos, videos, jewelry, art, and collectibles.
  • Make copies of titles, deeds, financial statements, and other records.
  • Change the locks if needed to protect assets.
  • Catalog and take photos of possessions to document their condition.

Securing these items and having a record of belongings will help avoid disputes later. You don’t want to lose out on getting back cherished possessions.

Step 5: Understand Child Custody and Support in SC

If you have kids, child custody and support will be a big issue. In SC, custody options include:

  • Joint physical and legal custody
  • Primary custody with one parent
  • Split custody with each parent having some kids
  • Visitation rights for non-custodial parent

The court determines custody based on the child’s best interests. Factors considered include who has been the primary caregiver, the child’s wishes, and which parent can provide a stable environment.

For child support, SC uses an Income Shares Model to calculate payments based on both parents’ incomes and custody share. Get estimates from your lawyer.

Step 6: Make Plans for Housing and Shared Expenses

You’ll need to figure out the living arrangements when separating:

  • Who will stay in the marital home? Can you afford the mortgage alone?
  • If selling, how long will you both need to find new housing?
  • How will you split costs like utilities, car insurance, phone bills, etc.?
  • Open new individual bank accounts and credit cards in your name only.
  • Develop a budget reflecting your new financial reality.

Your lawyer can request temporary support if needed to maintain your standard of living during the divorce. The key is avoiding financial surprises before the divorce is finalized.

Step 7: Find Support to Cope with the Emotional Impact

Divorce takes a toll emotionally. Seek support from family, friends, counselors, or support groups. Stay active, maintain routines, and focus on self-care. Be patient and understanding with children struggling with the changes.

While the logistics require attention, don’t neglect the feelings of grief, anger, and loss that often accompany divorce. Taking care of your mental health makes the process more bearable.

Being Prepared is the Key to a Smoother Divorce

There’s no way to completely avoid the difficulties of divorce. However, having a checklist and seeking legal guidance can help you navigate the complexities with less chaos and confusion.

Knowing what to expect reduces anxiety and prevents costly mistakes. Work closely with an experienced SC divorce attorney to protect your rights. The divorce lawyers at Okoye Law have successfully guided many clients through divorce and can do the same for you.

Visit their team online today at https://okoyelaw.com/ and schedule a consultation. With the right legal advice and preparation, you can move forward with confidence.