The Plantation and Delray Beach family law attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin created a “Top 10” list that you should consider if a divorce is imminent. Although this list is far from a complete and comprehensive list, it should serve to greatly aid in you through this stressful (and possibly prolonged) endeavor. When reading this list, please take into consideration that your children’s wellbeing, their safety, and your safety should always remain the top priority. Additionally, you should strongly consider seeking a free consultation from an experienced family law and divorce attorney as early as possible in the process.
Top 10 list to consider if divorce is imminent
- Do not move out of the marital residence – even temporarily. There are a number of potential consequences of making this (common) mistake. One of the primary reasons to stay in the marital residence is that “money” becomes a big issue – it is extremely difficult to sustain two households on the income of one spouse. In the event you are a victim of domestic violence, consider immediately filing for a restraining order.
- Copy / Inventory pertinent financial documents. Pertinent financial documents include, but are not limited to: tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, retirement accounts, emails, text messages, credit card statements, titles, deeds, promissory notes, spreadsheets of finances, etc. Make copies of any pertinent financial data stored on your home computer. Remember, pertinent financial documents include not only assets, but liabilities as well. If unknown, ascertain the contact information for your family accountant and/or financial advisor.
- Copy / Inventory pertinent household documents (such as monthly reoccurring bills). Pertinent household documents include, but are not limited to: mortgage bill, homeowner’s association fees, utility bill, insurance bill, membership bill(s), cable bill, telephone/cellular bill, lawn service, pool service, maid service, pet expenses, child care fees, tuition fees, camp and after-school activity fees, etc. Having an accurate picture of your household budget (including assets and liabilities) will help your family lawyer immensely.
- Inventory major or sentimental household and/or family possessions. Take pictures and/or videos, if necessary. Place family heirlooms, jewelry, or personal items in a “safe” location. Personal property tend to “walk away” and/or “disappear” during a divorce proceeding. It is much easier to replace the 50’ screen television than the antique vase that belonged to your great grandmother when she immigrated from Europe.
- If your spouse is self-employed, compile as much information about the finances of their business (such as pay stubs, K-1s, 1099s) as soon as possible. Inevitably, your spouse will attempt to undervalue his/her business and minimize his/her income during the divorce proceedings. Minimizing is especially relevant in cases involving: cash businesses; commissions based pay structures; or businesses with questionable “business” expenses such as car payments, meals, etc.
- Inventory “petty cash” shared between the parties. “Petty cash” routinely disappears soon after divorce proceedings are initiated.
- Start stockpiling cash and limiting expenses prior to filing for divorce. You should always have access to your own money, especially if your spouse was the primary breadwinner. If your spouse moves out and/or stops paying bills, you will need to pay such bills until temporary support orders can be issued. You will also need funds to retain an attorney.
- Consider cancelling credit cards where both parties are responsible for the charges.
- Pull a copy of your credit report. Work on establishing a solid credit history prior to filing for divorce. Open up a credit card and checking account in your name only.
- Change your will if you desire different beneficiaries.
These are just a few steps that should be taken if divorce is imminent. For a more complete and comprehensive personal assessment, seek a free consultation from an experienced family law and divorce attorney.