Attorney Michael W. Hanna
Preparing for Divorce
Divorce (also called dissolution of marriage under Missouri law) is a difficult experience for anyone who has to go through it whether you are a man or a woman and whether or not you have children. It is important to prepare for divorce, as much as possible, before visiting with your attorney.
It is absolutely essential to learn everything that you can about various assets or items of property which you and your spouse acquired together during the marriage so that when the dreaded "D" word is first discussed, you won't be in the dark on the asset issue. You should obtain the present value of all big ticket assets or items of marital property such as real estate, bank accounts, including checking and savings, retirement plans, mutual funds investments, stock investments and the like, 401K plans, IRAs and so on. Furthermore, you should know the whereabouts of all documents which might show the present value and number of shares of the asset if applicable.
I have done many divorces where one spouse (usually the woman) comes into my office and I talk to her about the property that her and her husband own together and her embarrassed response is typically, "I don't have any idea what assets we own, where they are located, or the value of the assets. My husband didn't or wouldn't let me know about any of that information." This scenario makes handling a divorce extremely more difficult. I encourage you to be proactive and do as much personal investigation as you can to find out about the existence and values of marital properties before you see your attorney for the first time. If your attorney does not know about the existence of assets, they can't be divided by the Court because the Court can only divide marital property which the Court knows about or which is in existence.
Likewise, it is also important to learn as much as you can about the debts that have been incurred during your marriage and whether the debts are secured, unsecured, on a credit card, on a line of credit or the like. Again, this is important because, as with marital property, the Court cannot divide the marital debt if the Court does not know of the existence of the debt. If credit cards have been a problem in your marriage, it might be wise to close down the affected credit card account(s) so that it or they can no longer be used to incur more debt.
It is also important in preparing for divorce to decide, if there are children, where you and the children are going to reside pending the divorce. The pros and cons of staying in the residence or moving out of the residence are matters that should be discussed in great detail with your attorney. It is important to hire an attorney as early in the divorce process as you possibly can. I stand ready to help you at any time and would love the opportunity to represent you in the event that the need arises. You can reach me at 816-399-3359. Call anytime for an appointment.