If you are contemplating a divorce, you will be faced with many changes, some within your control and some not. One of the best ways to educate yourself about what lies ahead is to meet with a board-certified family lawyer in your area who can help identify options and outline your rights and responsibilities.
The divorce process: During your initial consultation with your family lawyer, you will learn about the divorce process. You will learn about the why sometimes being the first to file is advantageous. And you will learn about the legal implications of leaving the marital residence early in the process. You will learn about the temporary orders hearing and whether the court might require a mediation in advance of any hearing. Your family lawyer is your source of information specific for you situation.
Your finances: The most important thing you can do in advance of a divorce is to make copies of everything you can find, both assets and liabilities. Specifically, you should try to find at least three years of tax returns, stock statements, bank statements, financial statements, insurance policies, loan payments, mortgage statements, credit card statements, etc. Hopefully you will also know the usernames and passwords for all of these accounts. Another thing to notice is when one debt or credit card is being paid down more quickly than the others especially if that debt is on your spouse’s sole name.
Your insurance: Take stock of and make copies of all insurance policies, including medical, dental, vision, automobile, home owner, and life. If you are being covered on your spouse’s health insurance, make sure that you are current on all check-ups and necessary procedures. Likewise, if you are the spouse providing insurance, be aware when your spouse begins an unusual push of medical procedures.
Your emotions: During a divorce, emotions are on a roller coaster ride. Talk to your lawyer before taking any dramatic actions. Don’t quit your job or toss out your spouse’s personal items. Finally, it is most important to protect yourself both physically and financially. Obviously, if you are in a physically abusive relationship, you will address this with your lawyer at your initial consultation. To protect yourself financially, consider opening a separate bank account. If you already have one, change the password. If you are considering moving money from a joint account to your separate account, be sure to discuss this with your lawyer in advance.
Remember that divorce is a process, not a single event that ends in a day. Your family lawyer is your best source of information to make the path easier.