What to Do Before Filing for Divorce
Today we’re going to be talking about steps that you can take prior to filing for divorce and what are some good moves, and what are some not so good moves that people do prior to filing.
So prior to filing for divorce, a good idea is to just hopefully have an understanding of what your financials look like, what your assets look like, what your liabilities look like, if you’re in a particular situation where one party controls the financials, and the other does not. The best thing to do is try to get at least start noting what you do know, what you see come in the mail, or what you see come in your email, or what do you have access to if you have a bank account. If there’s credit cards that you’re an authorized user on, things like that, just gather as much information as you’re able to if you are the person that controls the financials. It’s a good idea to just have a breakdown of what’s your spending. What do your assets look like? What do your investment accounts look like, your retirement accounts, what’s your Social Security going to be when you retire? Things like that. And of course, if you don’t have access to those documents, don’t panic, there are tools available for you to be able to obtain those documents. And as your attorneys, we also have tools available to be able to obtain all of that documentation, and make sure that we have an accurate picture of what your assets and liabilities look like. So don’t panic, if that’s something you’re not able to obtain, we will help you through that process. It’s just that a lot of people will come and say what do I need to know financially moving forward? And what I’ll always tell people is just to try to get a good understanding of what you have in advance. And if you can’t do that, then that’s fine. And we’ll work through that as well.
Should I start hiding money? Can I keep a secret bank account? We certainly do not encourage people keeping secret bank accounts, or large amounts of cash. Typically, as we go through the divorce process, we will ask for statements. If there’s an ATM withdraw every day for $300, somebody is going to question where that money is, and why all of a sudden, we’re taking out $300 a day from the ATM for example. Another thing that people will frequently ask is, “I have all of this money in an investment account, can I pull it?” It’s certainly not advisable, again, because everything will be able to be traced back and just because you hadn’t filed yet. If I was on the opposite side of that case, I would ideally argue that it was in anticipation of filing, and therefore still something that could be disputed.
No, you shouldn’t go on a spending spree. And you certainly shouldn’t go take a vacation to Hawaii or anything like that. What happens when you file for divorce is typically you’re ordered to maintain the status quo, which means that you continue to live as you always have. So if you don’t frequently just take a flight to Hawaii for no reason, then you shouldn’t do that prior to divorce or during the divorce process. We’re not saying that you can’t spend or that you can’t do anything, it’s just that at the end of the day, it could be something that would come off of you know, your side of the asset split, when we’re discussing that further down the road. And like everything is a case to case evaluation. There’s different circumstances in every case. And of course, that’s always something we will discuss. But it’s not advisable to just go and you know, start pulling money or spending things or selling things, or destroying things right prior to filing for divorce, because that’s always going to be something that will come back up during the discovery process. And it is traceable, and we will be able to figure it out.
Another tip that we have is if your divorce is going to be involving minor children. It’s very advisable prior to filing just to make sure maybe, again, if even if you guys aren’t amicable to try to sit down and at least have the interests of your children at heart. You know, kid should not have to experience the inner critic or the kid should not have to experience the details of your divorce moving forward. And we always stress that it is just very important to not involve your minor children. I understand that if your kids are a little bit older, they’re very perceptive, they’re very smart, they’re gonna have questions, they’re going to want to know what’s going on and that’s understandable. We just advise people to keep it to a minimum try to not involve your children and just keep that positivity surrounding your kids moving forward. Because even though you guys have decided to end your relationship that is your child’s parent for the rest of their life.
Another good tip that we have is to have a support system in place, make sure that you have somebody that you can talk to about these things, a lot of times what helps people and I know it sounds silly, but a lot of times, it’s you know, have something that you can reflect back on. Make yourself a list of all the positives that you have going forward. Because the divorce process, whether you’re going through it amicably or not, is going to be difficult emotionally, sometimes physically, you know, the stress, the documentation, the paperwork, you know, we take a lot of that stress on for you. And that’s why you hire us. But it also bears a lot on you. Because of course, this is your life, whether it was a you know, two year marriage or a 30 year marriage, this is your life, that we’re basically dissecting for this divorce process, and it can get stressful. So it’s highly advisable to try to maintain the positives in your life, keep a support system in place, make lists if you need to, that you can reflect back on. So prior to filing, you know, what’s all the great things that you have going for you in your life, and then look back at that during the process so that you can remember and know that even if you’re not feeling that right now, you will get back to that place, you will be able to look at that list and say yes, I have all of these things still and I’m still happy.