We have lists for grocery shopping, for what to pack when we go on a trip, for camping, and for all sorts of other things. Yet, when it comes to some of the most important events of our lives, we often don’t make a list. We read forums and check out social media to see what others in our situation have done. But the thing is, none of those people know you. They don’t know your life, your situation.
The only way to do divorce right is for you to put the time into it. Sit down and make a divorce checklist so that you miss nothing when you sit down at the negotiation table, whether that be directly with your spouse, or during a professionally-led mediation.
As you’re creating your checklist, write down your preferred terms for everything. You’d be surprised what can fly out of your head when you’re having an important discussion with high stakes. It doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but at least you will feel you’ve done a good job covering all the angles.
WHAT SHOULD BE ON YOUR LIST
If you have children, you should add the following items to your divorce checklist:
- Child custody: do you want to share physical custody with your spouse, or will one of you have primary custody and the other visitation?
- Parenting Plan: on what days are the children with you? On what days with your spouse? How will the holidays be split?
- Child support: In Nevada, this is pretty much set in stone except for certain allowed deviations. You can see those here: https://nevadadivorce.org/divorce-with-children/
- Who will get the tax credit when you have a child? Sometimes a judge will order that one parent get the tax credit during even years, and the other parent gets it during odd years.
- Religious upbringing: do the children currently attend services? Will that change after the divorce?
- College education: who will pay for this, or will neither party pay. This isn’t mandatory in Nevada.
Whether or not you have children, you should cover these items too:
- Alimony: are you entitled to it? Or do you have to pay it? There is nothing set in stone regarding alimony in Nevada. It basically comes down to any large discrepancy between the incomes of both parties, and the expenses each will have after the separation or divorce and how much each has contributed the marriage.
- Property: In a divorce, property is more than just real estate. It covers anything of value owned by the parties. And remember, it doesn’t matter whose name it is in.
Property consists of:
- Any business you own together or separately
- all bank accounts in both your names, or in your individual names. In a community property state, except for few exceptions such as in certain trusts, it makes no difference in whose name the accounts are held.
- art collection or any kind
- any valuable collectibles (baseball cards, antiques, etc.)
- jewelry bought during the marriage
- vacation homes
- anything else of value that was bought during the marriage.
- Note that some property purchased before the marriage such as a house for which no community funds were used to pay the mortgage or for maintenance is exempt from community property. It’s best to consult with your attorney on this one. Sometimes, this is like splitting hairs.
- 401K accounts
- Pensions (if this is to be split, it only occurs at the time of retirement. The terms are handled through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly referred to as a Q.D.R.O.
- Any type of recreational vehicles: boats, RVs, four-wheelers, etc.
- Health Insurance: typically, in a divorce, if health insurance has been provided through the employer of one of the parties, it will be lost to the spouse who is not employed by the company. That spouse can remain on the insurance for the same cost for 18 months under COBRA, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra
- Supplemental health insurance, such as dental and vision.
- Life Insurance: do you wish to change your beneficiary? If it’s your spouse who has a policy and you are the current beneficiary and you wish for it to remain that way, it need to be in your decree of divorce
- Do you have pets? Who will keep them, or will you share custody?
In a community property state, the same holds for debts as it does for property. It doesn’t matter in whose name the debt is listed, both spouses are responsible for repaying them.
- auto loans
- utility bills for the marriage household
- furniture loans
- credit card debts
- personal loans
- any other debts that have been incurred during the marriage
WHAT TO BRING TO THE MEDIATION TABLE
Whether you are discussing the terms of your divorce directly with your spouse or with a mediator, be sure to have the following on hand.
- Bank statements
- 401K statements
- Pension statements
- Mortgage statements
- Credit card bills
- Utility statements
- All of your wishes regarding anything to do with your children (see the list above)
- Any paperwork related to this Divorce Checklist.
- Anything you feel is important even if not listed here.
This certainly will seem overwhelming to you, but it IS your future. Love yourself enough to do the work to protect yourself and your children if you have them.