If you are contemplating a divorce or know that it is inevitable. You should carefully prepare yourself for this event. You may be able to support yourself or you may need spousal support. You could be reaching retirement. You have rights to income and assets generated during your marriage. You must take steps to protect theses rights. Divorces are easier when the parties agree to work together. However, if this is not the case you should seriously consider steps to protect your interest and the interest of your children.
- Secure funds: You should begin by securing funds for future expenses related to a divorce. These expenses include attorney fees, other professional fees, and living expenses.
- Hire an attorney. A qualified family law attorney can guide you thru the divorce process while protecting your best interest. You should NEVER enter divorce court without proper legal representation.
- Cancel jointly held credit cards: You should cancel any joint credit cards you have with the spouse. After you have cancelled the cards, amicably tell them that you have done so.
- Protect your jointly held bank accounts: You should remove half of the funds in any jointly held account and open a new individual bank account. Send a written notice to your spouse informing them that you have taken your portion of the funds. Remember, as long as you can prove that half the money belongs to you, then it should not be considered a “hostile” act.
- Cut expenses: Talk to your spouse about which utilities to cancel. You can discuss what personal properties should be sold.
- Make a list of all known assets and liabilities: You need to understand your financial situation. Compiling a list of your assets and liabilities is important because it makes it easier to distribute assets when necessary.
- Get a new mailing address: You will need a new address for your new bank/credit card statements, attorney correspondences, or other important communications.
- If you have a Will/Power of Attorney, make the applicable changes: Revoke your power of attorney so that your spouse does not have decision making abilities. You should change the beneficiary of your insurance policies if applicable. Although your spouse may have rights in some of your assets prior to the finalization of the divorce, you can still protect some of your assets.
- Keep a Journal: Keep a daily record of events. These events include time spent with children, arguments with your spouse, telephone calls. All information related to your divorce should be recorded. Stick to facts and avoid writing emotional entries. Entries in the journal may be used as evidence during the divorce proceeding.
- Do not sign documents: You should not sign documents that can later affect property distribution or child custody. Consult with your attorney before signing any type of legal document relating to the divorce.
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