Besides marriage itself, there are few events in one’s life more significant than a divorce. Sometimes divorces are amicable and are resolved relatively quickly; other times they are complicated, long drawn-out affairs. If you’re contemplating a divorce, but you are unsure of where to begin, here are five tips to help you navigate the process as efficiently – and painlessly – as possible.
1.) Obtain Records of the Estate – Begin creating a financial picture of the “estate”. A married couple’s estate refers to the total assets minus debts owned by the couple, which could include a variety of properties – cars, land, retirement accounts, the family home, etc. In order for your attorney to help you obtain everything entitled to you under the law, you’ll need to obtain any and all financial records relevant to your marriage. These may include things like the house deed, joint tax returns, or business account information. Additionally, if you can obtain any information about your spouse’s private financial accounts – accounts not in your name – such information will be valuable for your attorney. Obtaining these records before you announce you’d like a divorce will likely make them easier to obtain.
2.) Set up a P.O. Box, New Email and Phone – If you’re going to be receiving copies of financial records, it’s better to use a P.O. Box than your home address. In addition, it’s not a bad idea to setup a new email address to communicate with your attorney. If you really would like to keep the divorce process secret until a specific time, you can also purchase a prepaid phone for talking with your attorney. One might think such actions are unnecessary, but if you’re serious about confidentiality, then they might be your best route to a fair divorce settlement.
3.) Eliminate all Online Images and Texts Displaying Irresponsible Behavior – When children are involved in a divorce, avoid saying anything on record – e.g., on social media, blog posts, pictures posted online, etc. – that can be used against you in the court of law. Let’s suppose you’re a great father or mother, yet you have some pictures posted online that can be interpreted in non-flattering ways, such as you “partying” or displaying any sort of negligent behavior – delete them. Be aware that anything your spouse’s attorney can find, he/she may use to discredit you as a responsible parent. Additionally, do not send any threatening texts to your spouse during this time. Stay calm and avoid responding to toxic messages from your spouse altogether, but be sure to keep them for your records.
4.) Document Child Responsibilities – What are each parent’s responsibilities for the children, if any? Everything you can document, document. Did your spouse fail to pick up your kids from soccer? Document it. Did your spouse do something that put your children in danger? Document it. Beyond actions by your spouse, also document your kids’ daily routines, including as much detail as possible: What school does your child go to? What are his/her teacher(s) name(s)? Who is your child’s healthcare provider? What medications does your child take, and when does he/she take them? The more knowledge you can show to the court about your children’s lives, the better your attorney will be equipped to defend your custody rights.
5.) Don’t Move Out Before Consulting Your Attorney – There can be legal consequences if you move out of your spousal home, especially if you take items with you without unannounced. As painful as it can be to live with a spouse, be sure to consult with your attorney before moving out. A good attorney will have lots of experience and can guide you through the stages of a divorce settlement, so be sure to refer to him/her about any moving plans you have.
There are many issues that can complicate a divorce, from child custody and estate disputes to spousal support and visitation rights. Luckily, Castleton Law Group has some of the most experienced family law attorneys in the country. Contact us the moment you are contemplating a divorce, and we’ll make sure you’ll not only receive what you’re entitled to, but we’ll make the process as clear and efficient as possible.
Castleton Law Group
17800 Castleton Street, Suite 630, City of Industry, California 91748