Divorces come about in different ways for different people. Sometimes there is a “last straw” that sends a person right to the internet to look up a divorce attorney. Sometimes the couple just drifts away from each other – many times living apart (even if in the same house) for months or years before they decide to go ahead and file.
Regardless of how they get there, once a person decides that they want to get divorced they may wonder how they should prepare themselves. Here are a few things that we would recommend.
Protect Your Finances
- If you do not have a checking account of your own, open one
- Set aside some cash in case your bank accounts get frozen, which can sometimes happen
- Close any joint credit cards
- Check your credit report to make sure your spouse has not opened any joint accounts without your knowledge
- Obtain statements from all your joint investment accounts and freeze them so that no withdrawals can be made
- Get statements of your spouse’s retirement and investment accounts
- Get a post office box and a new email account. Make sure you use a password that you have never used before and one that you can remember. Do not write it down anywhere your spouse can see it.
- Change your passwords on all of your bank accounts, email accounts, store accounts, etc. Do not store your passwords in your browser’s memory. If you cannot remember the passwords, use a password vault like LastPass. It is free and you only have to remember the one you use to lock it.
- Also change your pin numbers for any ATMs/debit cards, credit cards, phone accounts, etc.
- If you have a job, prepare to have to be absent at times for appointments, mediation, or court. Let your boss know ahead of time and see if you can work out an alternate schedule, such as working through lunch or putting in some extra hours on the weekends to make up for it.
- If you are unemployed, start looking for a job. Update your resume. If you do not have qualifications to get a job that will support you, start looking into getting some training.
- Do not forget your health – physical or mental. Make sure to eat healthily and exercise regularly. Look into finding a therapist or a spiritual advisor, if that is something you feel would help. A divorce can take a lot out on a person.
- Speaking of health, if you are covered by your spouse’s insurance, look into whether you can continue to be covered by their insurance or if you will need to get your own. Call several places to get quotes.
Protect Your Assets
- Take an inventory of all the assets you have, from furniture and artwork to jewelry and automobiles. Take pictures of the more expensive items and consider getting a professional appraisal. Make note of items that were yours or your spouse’s before you got married, or that you received as an inheritance or present from someone other than your spouse.
- Gather all your financial statements – bank, investment, insurance, property, retirement, loans, credit cards, etc.
- Gather all your deeds and titles.
Help Your Attorney
Take some time and write out a good narrative of your life with your spouse. Describe as accurately as possible what kind of lifestyle you enjoyed while married. Knowing this will help your attorney if you are entitled to alimony, plus it will give them an insight into things you may not have thought of that will be impacted by your divorce.
When you are ready, Pamela Fero Law, PLLC is here for you.