This came to me in a newsletter from Gillespie, Shields & Durrant. It’s exceptional information for anyone who’s just decided to dissolve their marriage.
1. Consult an family law attorney. While you may not know much about lawyers and fees, at least meet with one and learn about how to hire one if you ultimately decide to.
2. Copy documents. A little planning goes a long way in this area because it is much more difficult to obtain these documents through discovery procedures later. If you are unsure of what documents to copy, go to our Document Checklist.
3. Open a separate bank account in your name. What is important is opening it, not how much you have in it. Establish your own credit and your own financial system. Talk to your attorney about how to fund it.
4. Get a copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Your credit report will list all credit cards and loans in your name (including those that are joint). You should close any accounts that are open but inactive to prevent future abuse by your spouse, and you’ll find out if your spouse opened any new joint accounts without your knowledge.
5. Safe Deposit 101: If you have a joint box that holds cash and assets, ask the bank to require both signatures to open the box. While you’re at the bank, inventory everything in said box and take pictures of any unique asset. Finally, open your own box while you’re there!
6. Change passwords for ATM cards, home security systems, voice mailboxes, online access to bank accounts, e-mail accounts and online sites you shop on.
7. Inventory household and family possessions. If you begin to notice things are missing, analyze your assets.
8. Review Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives. If you have executed any power of attorney giving your spouse any authority to handle business or financial affairs on your behalf, destroy them. Do the same relating to living wills or health care proxies. If you become unable to make your own decisions, now is certainly not the time that you want to count on a former spouse (to be).
9. Put your children at the top of your agenda. If a divorce is imminent, you will undoubtedly spend lots of time researching, collecting documents, and interviewing attorneys. Of all the parties to a divorce, children are the ones who suffer the most!
10. Because you have a rough road ahead, get a good Divorce Therapist on your personal team.