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Seeking a divorce in the new year? Start planning now

The heralding in of the new year is often seen as a fresh start for many individuals in Rhode Island. It is also a time of the year when many spouses may re-examine their relationship. For some, particularly those who are in an unhappy marriage, the new year may be seen as a good time to seek a divorce. In fact, according to some sources, January sees a spike in divorce filings.

That being said, it is important not to rush into a divorce. There are steps a person may want to take to prepare him or herself for this important life event. First of all, a person may want to seek the help of a variety of professionals before filing for divorce. One of these professionals is an attorney, who can help explain the legalities of the divorce process and who can represent his or her client's best interests. For confidentiality reasons, it may help for an individual to work with an attorney that has not worked for the couple in the past.  Another professional to consider is a divorce mediator who can work with both parties to find a resolution.  

It is also important for residents of Rhode Island to understand their state's property division laws, particularly if there is not a prenuptial agreement in place. Rhode Island is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that there are a number of factors courts will consider when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, rather than just splitting everything 50/50.

It can also help to have all of one's financial records in order prior to filing for divorce. This includes having a good idea of the tax consequences that may follow getting a divorce. In addition, if a spouse has any financial accounts that name a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy, it is important to make sure that the beneficiary designation is changed after the divorce, since most people may not want their ex-spouse to be named as a beneficiary after their marriage has ended.

As this shows, there are many legal issues residents of Rhode Island may want to think about prior to filing for divorce. By being prepared emotionally and financially, individuals filing for divorce can start the process on the right foot.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first," Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 12, 2015

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