10 to get ready
So many times one of the first things we hear from potential clients is “I have no idea where to begin”. While you may know that the time has come to divorce or separate that doesn’t mean that you know how to go about it. As it has been said that the longest journey begins with a single step, we have attempted to develop a starting point for those who believe they may divorce. While some of this may strike you as simplistic, it is only so if you have thought of it.
10. Read articles and books on divorce and the divorce process. Knowledge about the law and courts can make what’s coming a little less frightening. Don’t listen to war stories (“my friend’s husband ….”), they are rarely positive and are usually wrong.
9. Gather all information on your property, income, assets & liabilities; run a credit report; make copies of account statements and tax returns; find values on your cars and house. Nothing is too trivial at this stage. Copy everything! Make a video inventory of the house. Things and financial records tend to vanish.
Note: If you fear your spouse may drain accounts upon realizing a divorce is going to happen you have to consider acting to protect your assets. Joint credit cards frequently must be considered as well.
8. Assess what personal items you do not want to see disappear from your life (pictures, family heirlooms, etc.). If there are things that matter to you, get them gone. If their absence is noticed the War of the Roses begins, so be discrete. Guard “special” jewelry (engagement ring, etc.) carefully. Do not strip the house.
7. Change all your passwords (email, bank account, pension, etc). Don’t use new ones that are easy to guess. Scrub that hard drive. Don’t use it again. Clean out your cell phone. Remember, cell phone bills and EZ-Pass records tell a story. If it’s not a story you want told, change the way you travel and communicate. A post office box is not a bad idea to protect the privacy of your mail.
6. Behave civilly. Family (or criminal) Court Orders of Protection can be game changers. They are liberally granted and their issuance is possibly more impactful on a divorce proceeding than any other single event.
5. Find a support person. Rarely is clear thinking (or even clear hearing) always present. Your best friend or a close relative may serve as a much needed aide at lawyer meetings and after court appearances.
4. Train for a marathon, not a sprint. Divorce is not a process that ends quickly. Although not always the case, frequently the best outcome is realized by whomever holds on longest.
3. Take notes at home. From the first moment the concept of divorce is contemplated write down everything. Date, time, event, witnesses. Memory fades faster than ink. Oh, yeah, hide the book!
2. Pick the best lawyer for you. Lawyers are a lot like shoes, those that fit your friend will not necessarily fit you. Retain a lawyer with whom you are comfortable and who is likely to work effectively in a negotiation with your spouse.
1. Know what you want. Nothing guarantees a long, drawn out divorce better than the absence of a clear, unchanging set of goals. You need both a wish list and a bottom line.
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