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Preparing for Divorce

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By Patrick N. George

It is no secret that divorce is often one of the most complex and emotional experiences of a person’s life. In fact, divorce has often been referred to as a two step process. The first step is the actual legal steps to get the divorce while the second is the emotional separation from your spouse.

Nobody ever wants to see their relationship, that was once thought to last forever, coming to an end. Yet, all too often marriages break down, for whatever reason and it is no longer possible to maintain a positive, healthy relationship. When a divorce is imminent, there are several things a person can do to minimize their stress, prepare to meet with their attorney, and make the process easier.

    1. Run your credit report: This may seem like an odd suggestion, but it is not uncommon for a divorcing spouse to discover that his or her spouse used their name and good credit to secure loans, credit cards, and other debts without their knowledge. This can complicate divorce and is something you need to tell your attorney. It is an issue that is especially important in community property states. Finding out about these debts sooner rather than later can be crucial to help ensure you are not held responsible for your spouse’s irresponsible financial decisions
    2. Consider opening a PO Box: If negotiations fail and your divorce leads towards litigation, you may want to consider opening a PO Box to prevent against the possibility of your spouse intercepting your mail. At the very least you will want to open a new email account. This will ensure your communications with your attorney will be confidential and allow you to more easily provide them with the information they need without interference
    3. Change your passwords: Many people use the same password for accounts, email, social media and more. These accounts can easily be accessed by others and embarrassing social media information can come to light. Or, in contrast, financial accounts can be accessed. Change your account numbers to something neither your spouse or anyone else will guess. To be safe, I advise my clients to close their social media accounts until after the divorce is complete
    4. Open a separate bank account: Many married couples have joint bank accounts which grant both spouses access to the funds held within. To protect yourself against the possibility of your spouse raiding your account and leaving you penniless, withdraw half of your funds and place them in a separate account at a different banking institution. It is important to note that you will be required to pay back any amount that is deemed to be your spouse’s share
    5. Gather important documents: Divorce requires parties to collect a great many documents including credit card accounts, tax records, w-2s, bank records, retirement account documents, real property documents, and investment account records. This allows the Court to determine the division of property, debts, alimony, and child support. If you have these documents up front, it will also make it easier for your attorney.

These tips can help simplify your divorce substantially. In addition to these tips get an attorney that is well qualified to help you in family law. Research this person and make sure you both are a good fit and will be able to work together. This will reduce your stress and raise your confidence. Finally, good luck during this difficult time.

 

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