9 Critical Steps to Take When Preparing for a Divorce

December 31, 2014

Preparing for a Divorce Ohio

Change is never easy, and it is especially difficult to change your way of life after many years of marriage.  Often when we have a major life change such as a wedding, the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one, we all wish we could have done more to prepare.  Preparing for a divorce is no different.  Many who have finalized a divorce decree are left with the “now what” feeling when not prepared.  Read on to learn the 8 critical steps to take when preparing for divorce

  1. Gather your financial records

Whether you have tax records or bank statements sitting at home, your attorney will want to see them all. Gather all the financial records you can find and keep them in a safe place.  This means that you shouldn’t keep them at home where your soon to be ex-spouse may have access to them.  If you have joint records, you should make a copy and keep the copy in a safe place.  Talk with a close friend and keep them safe.  Many elect to keep financial documents in a safety deposit box at their local bank.  Check with your bank if they can accommodate your request for a safety deposit box. 

  1. Create a budget

Create a pre-divorce and post-divorce budget for yourself to help prepare you financially for what is ahead.  During the divorce proceeding you will need to set money aside for expenses like attorney fees. Work with an attorney to understand the new tax obligations you may face and how to treat spousal support or child support when you report income on your taxes. 

  1. Find a secure place for your mail

Secure your correspondence.  This is especially important for those who continue to live with their spouse when custody is an issue.  Did you know that if you move out of the marital home it might prevent you from gaining sole custody of your child?  Rather than find a separate place to live and risk custody of the marital children, set up a P.O. box at your local post office.  The locked and secure P.O. box is the perfect place to receive mail from your attorney regarding your ongoing divorce.  Any mail you receive from your divorce attorney should be kept confidential, so listing your home address could put your confidential materials at risk.

  1. Open a new bank account and start saving

Joint checking accounts can be drained in an instant leaving you with little to no money on which to live during the divorce.  Rather than worry over the state of your current and future finances, take a step that many attorneys recommend.  Open a checking account and savings account in your name so you can start saving up for things relating to the cost of the divorce.  This could include attorney’s fees, court fees, moving expenses, and other unforeseen expenses. 

If your spouse has access to and generally controls the family funds, it is important to protect yourself and prepare for the future.  Open an account in a new bank, one where you do not already have an account.  Speak with an attorney to learn how much you can withdraw from a joint account to set up your new checking and savings accounts.  Preventing access to money is a common tactic used by vindictive spouses so prepare yourself accordingly.  Make sure the funds are kept safe and you are the only one who can access the funds.  Again, this is something to discuss with your family law attorney when you have your free consultation.

  1. Make sure you have a credit card in your name only

Many spouses have joint checking accounts and joint credit cards.  When you have grown accustomed to sharing responsibility for all financial transactions you may not have credit in your name alone.  This is why if you currently share credit cards, setting up one in your name only is important. 

Additionally, any joint credit cards could have been used to purchase gifts or other outside expenses that may have contributed to the decline of the marriage.  Attorneys discover that spouses tend to buy expensive gifts for a new love interest.  If you find your husband or wife has been spending money on gifts for someone you expect to be a love interest, you must act quickly.  By setting up a new card you protect your interests and are able to stick closely to your budget during and after the divorce.  Start building credit especially if you don’t have a credit history on your own.   

  1. Credit check

Check your credit score for any unusual activity.  If you have a joint account that you and your spouse share, make sure that their spending habits do not affect your credit score.  Consider monitoring your credit score during the divorce to be notified if changes are made.  If your spouse is spending money using joint funds, you need to know.  Work with a family law attorney in Columbus, Ohio for more on what to look for in a credit score that may indicate infidelity.

  1. Update legal documents

A major life change should always trigger the revision of your will or other trust instruments.  Major life changes include marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, and divorce.  It is important to keep your legal documents up to date and remove your soon to be ex-spouse from your will.  Additionally, if you have children from the marriage and have sole custody, you will want to include provisions for their care in your will. Speak with an attorney to learn more on how to update your legal documents after your divorce decree has been signed.

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement made with an additional party meant to prevent assets from passing through probate.  This instrument is created to protect assets or moneys and have them pass to a beneficiary.  You may have learned of trust funds that were set up for children of wealthy businesspeople around the world.  Spouses can also create a trust to protect assets and provide benefits to a surviving spouse, keeping it out of the taxable estate at the time of death. This is a way to control your wealth, protect your legacy, and keep your assets private.  If you have already set up a trust for yourself or your spouse, consult your attorney.  Divorce attorneys in Columbus, Ohio will have the knowledge and experience to advise you on what to do with a marital trust.

  1. Change beneficiaries

In addition to your will and any legal documents naming your spouse as the beneficiary, you need to consider your life insurance policy beneficiaries.  You will want to change the beneficiary to someone other than your soon to be ex-spouse, for example, a child or your parents.  This should be done in addition to updating your will.  Many people forget to update insurance documents and the insurance company will pay the ex-spouse rather than the beneficiaries listed in the will.  If this sound confusing, work with a family lawyer to learn what documents should be updated after your divorce.   Many times you will learn all this and more from a Columbus, Ohio lawyer.  Free consultations are available to ask questions and learn what advantages hiring an attorney will bring.  

  1. Take an inventory of personal property

Making note of your own property and items that are not joint marital assets is important.  This includes things like a car that you purchased with your own money, any property or items inherited, land owned before the marriage, etc.  You want to account for all of these things because in most states, property that was yours before the marriage remains yours after the marriage.  A family law firm in Columbus, Ohio can help you with advice on what might apply.  During your free consultation a trained family law attorney can help you discern what property is personal, and what may be considered a marital asset. 

If you are considering divorce and don’t know where to turn, contact an attorney.  The attorneys at E.F. Whipps & Associates focus on helping families resolve their differences using many methods including mediation.   Sometimes marriages are repaired and other times an amicable split may be reached.  No matter what, it is best to be prepared with the support of a law firm with over 30 years experience. 

 If you need a divorce and dissolution lawyer, please contact Edward F. Whipps & Associates for help. To arrange a confidential initial consultation and to find a mutually convenient time, you may call the Columbus office at (614) 461-6006 or our Dublin office at (614) 461-6007

 

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