Louisiana Divorce: What to do First?

I’ve decided I want a divorce.  What should I do first?

The first thing you need to do if you’re definite about getting a divorce is you need to be prepared.  You have already taken the
first step by going to our web site.  In addition, you need to be financially prepared for the divorce.  This means that if you have
joint accounts, you should take out half of the money from those accounts.  Keep this cash in a separate account that you control.
This way your spouse won’t be able to take out money and leave you unable to support yourself.

Second, if you are going to move out of the house, find a place to live.  As we’ve mentioned in other lessons, the divorce process is
expensive, and the process of setting up an entire separate household often pushes families over the brink financially.  You may want to consider living with a relative for a period of time until you figure out exactly what’s going to happen with your finances.

Third, gather all of your important documents together.  You may want to make copies of them so that your spouse can have them as
well.  These documents include all financial documents, bank statements, credit card statements, brokerage account statements, or any other document related to your finances.  This would include insurance policies.  Courts require you to submit tax returns, so make sure that you have copies of your tax returns going back at least two years, preferably five.  Some courts also require proof
of income, so you may want to make copies of your most recent pay stubs.

Fourth, if you have a will, you will want to revise it.  The Gallagher Law Firm offers this as a free service to all of our clients.

Fifth, you should close all joint credit cards, in writing.  This will prevent your spouse from running up huge credit card balances while you are going through the divorce process.

Remember, you own everything together unless you have a pre-nup.  This means that any debt that your client incurs during the divorce proceeding is your debt as well.