If you’re thinking of a divorce, here are 5 things you should consider before filing.
GET A HANDLE ON YOUR FINANCES
If you’ve taken backseat when it comes to the finances in your marriage and you’re thinking of a divorce, now is the time to start getting acquainted. This doesn’t mean you have to start managing your family’s stock portfolio but it does mean you should familiarize yourself with the types of accounts you have and the balances of those accounts. You should also locate and review your tax returns. Tax returns contain a wealth of information about not only income, but assets too.
Getting acquainted with your finances also means understanding your family’s budget. One of the first steps in the divorce process is filling out a Statement of Net Worth. This is a complicated document that details your monthly budget and lists all of your assets and liabilities. If you’re thinking of a divorce understanding your budget now can save you a lot of time, stress and legal fees down the line.
STEP UP TO THE PARENTING PLATE
If you’re thinking of a divorce and you want primary residential custody (or even 50/50 custody), you have to show that you are an active, participating parent. This means more than just paying for soccer practice and reading bedtime stories. Do you know the names of your children’s teachers? Do you make and attend doctor’s appointments? Do you set up playdates? Are you the one who packs your children’s bags for vacation? If you find yourself answering “no” to most or all of those questions then fighting for primary or equal parenting time will be an uphill battle unless you start taking a more active role in your child’s life. If you are confident that you are the more present parent it doesn’t hurt to keep a journal of your involvement (and your partner’s lack of involvement) in your child’s life.
DRAFT COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE COURT IN MIND
In a divorce action every e-mail and text message conversation you’ve had with your spouse has the potential to land before a judge, attorney for the child, or forensic evaluator. Before you respond to your spouse’s nasty text with one of your own, hit the pause button and ask yourself, “How would this text make me look to someone who knows nothing about my situation?” If it’s not going to make you look good, re-draft that message. Here are some common-sense Dos and Don’ts for written communication with your spouse before or during a divorce, even if you’re just thinking of a divorce:
- Respond respectfully
- Respond in a timely manner
- Clearly dispute statements and accusations that are untrue
- Save copies of e-mails and texts that may be relevant to your divorce
- Use curse words, capital letters or disparaging phrases
- Make threats
- Lie or make written promises you don’t intend to keep
CHANGE YOUR E-MAIL PASSWORD AND CHECK YOUR ICLOUD SETTINGS
We know, we know. Your spouse doesn’t know your password and would never snoop through your phone. Just humor us and change your password anyway. When a divorce is imminent an otherwise trustworthy spouse may start to get curious. If you’re communicating with a divorce attorney and you haven’t discussed divorce with your spouse yet, you do not want him or her to find out your intentions or that you’re even just thinking of a divorce by seeing an e-mail.
Also, be mindful that if your iCloud account is linked with a shared iPad, iPhone or home computer someone with access to the second device (including your children) may be able to see your online communications in real time. This can include access to your text messages, e-mails, browser history and photographs. If you have a multitude of devices make sure to check the iCloud settings on all of them and disable your iCloud account on any shared device.
TALK TO AN EXPERIENCED MATRIMONIAL LAWYER
You might not be ready to file divorce papers if you’re just thinking of a divorce, but speaking to a matrimonial attorney early on will make sure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities when it does come time to separate. Misconceptions regarding divorce and family law are rampant. Knowing the law can help you make informed decisions about your conduct and financial plans prior to filing divorce papers. Speaking to a lawyer also can help quell the fear that comes from the unknown. A lawyer can speak to you about the divorce process and give you clarity about what to expect moving forward. Sometimes just knowing what’s ahead can help you sleep better at night.
If you’re considering divorce, Greenblatt Law LLC can help. Contact us today to begin your discussion of divorce and divorce considerations.