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Preparing For Divorce In Michigan


The Michigan Divorce Attorneys at Ziulkowski & Associates, PLC are frequently asked by potential Michigan divorce clients, "How do I prepare for a divorce?" If you are considering divorce, following a non-exclusive list of things you can do to prepare


SEEK HELP.


  • Seek counseling. Counseling is not a requirement in Michigan, but it can help you to make sure that divorce is what you really want.
  • Consult with an attorney about your legal rights. Divorce is one of the most important decisions in your life, once you are sure you want to proceed, make a list of all of your questions. One of Ziulkowski & Associates, PLC experienced Michigan divorce attorneys will be able to answer all of your questions.


KEEP RECORDS IN A SAFE PLACE


  • Get a P.O. Box. It is not uncommon for a spouse to retrieve mail of the other spouse prior to or during a divorce, particularly if they are still living together. Forwarding your personal mail will avoid this problem and help ensure you receive important mail and your spouse does not retrieve letters from your attorney.
  • Have a safe place to keep YOUR documents. Records and documentation are very important in a divorce. Make sure you have a safe place to keep them such as a safety deposit box or a friend’s house. Your care is rarely a safe place for your documents.
  • Complete the Ziulkowski & Associates. PLC Divorce Questionnaire: Our divorce questionnaire is designed to provide our attorneys necessary information to evaluate your situation and protect your rights by providing us with details we need to prepare your case. Information we will need includes the date of your marriage, a description of your spouse, the birthdates of your children, any prior separation dates, any prior divorce proceeding, and other relevant information regarding marital assets.
  • Stay alert, stay informed. Review the mail that comes to the house. Make copies of all important documents such as bank account statements, investment statements, insurance policies, credit card statements. Make sure you have all account numbers and addresses. Keep these documents in a safe place outside the marital home. The best place would be a safety deposit box or a friend or family members’ home.


KNOW YOUR ASSETS


  • Know what you own. Gather information about what you own. Make a spreadsheet with a list of you and your spouse's assets and debts. Include all real property and major assets, include their values.
  • Make a list of your valuables. Go through your house, room by room, and make a list or take pictures on a digital camera of all of the items in each room and think of a value for each item. Make a spreadsheet of this list and include whether or not each item is something you wish to keep.
  • Make copies or scan the last 12 months of all statements. Make copies of financial statements, tax returns, retirement plan documents, brokerage statements, insurance policies, deeds, bank account records, property tax statements, etc. Keep these copies in a safe place, not at the marital home.
  • Make copies of all insurance documents. Make copies of any and all insurance policies relating to the marital residence, furnishings or other assets, including any riders for jewelry, silverware or other valuables. Keep these copies in a safe place, not at the marital home.
  • Document everything. Take pictures of all assets such as the contents of your home, cottage, jewelry, tools, cars, clothing, everything. It is also advisable to take video of everything as well. Remember, all of these documents, pictures and videos may be necessary as evidence to either help settle your divorce or used as proofs in a trial.


KNOW YOUR INDIVIDUAL, YOUR SPOUSES AND ALL MARITAL DEBTS


  • Know what you owe. Remember you are entitled to one free credit report each year. Order your free credit report at www.transunion.com
  • Make copies of all debts. Make copies of all documents that report or show anything you or your spouse owe including, but not limited to, credit card statements, student loan statements, mortgage statements, home equity loans, car loan or lease statements, and make sure to get copies of all titles. Remember, keep all of these documents in a safe place that is out of your spouse’s reach or control.
  • Make copies of all loan documents. Get copies of all loan documents such as your mortgage, student loans, car loans, etc.


PROTECT YOUR CREDIT


  • Protect your credit. Close all joint accounts to prevent your spouse from increasing marital debt. You should also consider establishing your own credit, if you have none.
  • Do not create more debt. Do not incur new debt or make large purchases just prior or during your divorce. If you can prevent it, do not let your spouse do so either.
  • Do not refinance your home. Do not refinance the marital home just prior to filing for divorce.
  • Debt and credit are an important issue in a divorce. Keep track of everything. Debt and credit are often a huge issue in divorce, don’t make it worse by increasing debt.


BE AWARE OF MARITAL FINANCES


  • Separate joint funds. Consider transferring your half of the joint funds to your separate bank account. Do not spend it recklessly as the Court will require you to account for it.
  • Keep inherited funds separate. Keep all inheritances separate form your spouse. If an inheritance is received, don't put it in both you and your spouses’ name and don’t use it toward marital purchases or marital expenses.
  • Use joint funds. Before you separate, use joint funds to repair your automobile and home, buy clothes for yourself and your children, and get needed dental work and medical checkups. If you wait until after separation, some of these expenses may be yours alone.
  • Set aside funds. If possible, set aside cash reserves for both parties to use during the first few months of separation.
  • Secure funding for an attorney. Make arrangements to secure funds for retaining an attorney. Either from marital funds, borrowing from friends or family, or utilizing a credit card.
  • Pay debt off. Consider paying bills and credit cards that are solely in your name from joint funds before separating, so that you do not have to worry about your credit rating being damaged due to bills that may not be paid during the divorce.


IF POSSIBLE, COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE


  • Talk to your spouse. After speaking to an attorney, decide the best way to tell your spouse you want a divorce. Unless there is abuse involved, it is rarely a good idea to blind side your spouse by serving him/her with a complaint for divorce.
  • Begin negotiations. If you and your spouse can talk about the divorce reasonably, start discussing what each wants out of the divorce. Do not argue and DO NOT sign ANYTHNING without talking to your attorney first.
  • Determine the agreements. Consider what you are willing to concede and what concessions your spouse may be willing to make.
  • Determine potential obstacles. Try and figure out what you both are willing and/or unwilling to negotiate. These issues could be related to business, custody, pets, etc. Remember, you should pick your battles. Often times there are initial sticking points that can later be resolved once everyone has had enough time to accept that the divorce is going to go through.

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