When you first learn that your spouse has filed for divorce, it can either come as a complete surprise or something you’ve been expecting. Either way, there are steps you should take to protect yourself, your children, and your finances. This is doesn’t mean that he should strip the family home and start over somewhere new immediately. What it does mean is that you should take reasonable steps to safeguard your interests.
The following suggestions are intended for situations where separation or divorce is likely to become adversarial. If you and your spouse are divorcing amicably, these issues can also be worked out between you with the help of a lawyer.
- If you have children, consider staying in the family home
Moving out too soon can impact custody later on. However, if staying will cause heightened tension between you and your spouse and this increased tension makes for fighting in front of your children or even domestic violence, it is in your best interest to leave. You should be aware of this and try to minimize as much friction as possible. If possible, consider sharing the family home with your spouse until custody and divorce issues are worked out.
- Get a lawyer
If you and your spouse can’t agree on anything during your divorce, it is likely you will end up in court. This is where you should have an experienced divorce lawyer to represent you. Having a lawyer on your team can help ease tensions and provide you with the best chance to have the most favorable outcome for you and your spouse.
- Safeguard personal papers and make copies of important records
This is something you should do even if you aren’t going through a divorce. You should locate and gather all of your personal records, such as your birth certificate, diplomas, and any other personal documents. For jointly owned records like bank statements, real estate records, tax returns, and things like that, you should make two copies of everything and give one to your spouse. What you have all the information stored in a safe location that can’t be tampered with.
- Cancel all jointly owned credit cards
You should meet with their spouse and inform them you intend to cancel the cards before you do so. While it only takes a few minutes to cancel your card, it also only takes a few minutes for your spouse to rack up a high charge on them. If the card is still jointly owned and you are not yet separated or divorced whatever charges are there, you are both likely to still be responsible for the debt that was created.
Going through a divorce is a highly complicated and emotionally draining process for many people. We understand this and suggest that you find a divorce lawyer like our friends at Winfrey Law Firm, PLLC, to help you through this process.