You may have seen this coming or it may be a sudden realization, but either way, if a divorce is imminent, you need to do what you can to protect yourself, your assets, and your children. Here are some steps to take as soon as you realize that divorce is likely and inevitable.
- Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Prioritize your needs such as housing, transportation, and expenses. If you need to move out of the family home, consider where you will go, how much it will cost, and what you will need to take with you. If you need to move out with children, consider appropriate situations that will allow them to maintain as much normalcy as possible. If your spouse is moving out, consider what rules you will put in place for visiting the residence and how they can get their belongings.
- Take on the money matters. If your spouse will be moving out and they traditionally managed the household finances, now is an excellent time to familiarize yourself with them. Review the bank statements for the last six months or so to see the recurring costs, including what they are for and when they occur. If you have joint access to your account with your spouse, consult with your attorney as to what you can do to access your likely portion of the account.
- Inventory. Just as if you were preparing an inventory for insurance purposes, now is a great time to take stock of your joint assets. Take pictures of your valuables including paintings, silverware, jewelry, automobiles, and furniture, to name a few. Keep these photographs in a safe place as they will become helpful later on when it is time to split up the assets. Also make copies of the truly important documents such as mortgages, insurance policies, bank statements, wills, investment account statements, passports, tax returns, and automobile titles. Don’t forget to copy the data stored on the home computer onto a zip drive or other external hard drive. All of this information will be very useful when it is time to determine the assets of the marriage and what belongs to you.
- Check your financial health. Even during marriage, an individual maintains their own credit report and score. Now is the time to check out yours and see what your creditworthiness is. If you have no credit history in your own name because your spouse put all of the accounts in his/her name, open a new account for a credit card and start establishing a credit history for yourself. If your current credit history is poor, this is a great time to start to rehabilitate it. Another important step to take is to determine your earning potential. This is particularly important for spouses, usually women, who have stayed home to raise the children and may have been out of the workforce for a while. It may be daunting, but it is necessary, especially if spousal and child support may not be forthcoming for a while.
- Find an excellent attorney. Divorce is a difficult process, but it is by no means one that you should face alone, especially when it comes to ensuring that your financial needs and those of your children are taken care of. Finding reputable and competent counsel is a must. A good attorney can make a good divorce. Consider the Alsandor Law Firm if you are facing a divorce. Their attorneys are ready and able to help you today.