Certainly divorce is not something that you plan, but sometimes is the only appropriate solution to your marital discord. If you find yourself considering a divorce or in the unfortunate situation of having a divorce forced upon you by an unhappy spouse, you will need to start thinking about how to best prepare yourself and your children for the difficult road ahead.
Should I make a plan? Absolutely!
- One of the most important things you should do is to know your financial situation. If you don’t already, learn! Knowledge is power.
- Begin to collect and/or make copies of your bank account statements and records, income tax returns, pay stubs, employee benefit plans, credit card statements, automobile and/or mobile home titles, mortgage statements, auto, life, and health insurance, and retirement information. If you bank and/or pay your bills online, make sure that you secure your passwords and print hard copies of all your statements and payment history.
- Secure your personal information and that of your children such as social security cards, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, military ID cards, school records, and health insurance cards.
- Be sure and review your finances so that you know your monthly expenses and income. You will be required to complete a financial affidavit for your case, and it will be helpful if you begin to think about how much your monthly expenses are. Do not incur any new or additional debt, if possible.
- Safeguard any evidence that you have regarding adultery or custody issues. Keep copies of cell phone bills, emails, text messages and social media posts and pictures. Do not store these solely on your phone where they could be deleted or destroyed. Make copies and store them in a safe place. If you have kept calendars or journals, be sure and make copies of those.
- Try to make plans for where you and your spouse will live during the divorce. Most often, physical separation during the divorce process is necessary but strains the family finances. Divorce is a stressful time for all family members, especially children. If possible, maintaining stability in their living situation will likely be comforting to them and is an important custody consideration. REMEMBER, you are still married until your divorce is final and a judge has signed your divorce decree. Act like it… even though you may be physically separated. Do not be tempted to begin a new relationship or start dating. Do not change your social media status to “Single”, post information about your spouse, your divorce case or your recreational activities online. Do not post pictures or memes that you would be ashamed to have to explain to your attorney or a judge. Your text messages to your spouse, as well as to your family and friends, as well as content from your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat can all be used as evidence in your case.
- Before making any permanent decisions (or even temporary ones), financial or otherwise, obtain legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your state. Your divorce will be different from your coworker’s or from your family member’s. Each person’s marriage has special circumstances and facts and so does your divorce case.
*The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice nor is it intended to be legal advice. If you have a need for legal advice, please consult with an attorney.
The above article was published in the Timber Times newsletter.
Patricia McCorvey Karras, a partner with the law firm Dover Miller Karras Langdale & Brantley, P.C., practices family law, personal injury, real estate law, estate planning and probate law. Contact the firm for your legal needs, including real estate, estate planning, probate, contracts, business law, adoption and family law. The firm has attorneys available to address all of your legal needs.