Before You File for Divorce
Before you file for a divorce you might want to stop and consider what it might take to save your marriage. Even if you can’t save the marriage or don’t want to try to save it, counseling can help you discover what went wrong, and how to pick up the pieces and move on with your life after the event. Don’t wait for your spouse to participate in counseling with you, initiate it on your own if you have to, but talk to a marriage counselor or other divorce-related professional mediator before you throw in the towel or start drawing up the papers.
Even if you are planning to utilize an online divorce document service and don’t want or need an attorney to handle your case, it is always a good idea to talk to an attorney before you begin any action. Don’t bring up the subject of divorce with your spouse until have at least had a one-time, initial consultation with a competent divorce attorney to see what your options might be. You need to do this up front and not later when it may be too late to change your mind or the outcome of your actions. Divorce laws can be complex and any actions you take now can affect the rest of your life.
In fact, a consultation with an attorney might be the best single thing you can do before starting down the divorce path and making bold moves on your own, like moving out of the house. Leaving the home could affect whether or not you pay alimony or could result in the inability to collect alimony altogether. Once you leave the home, you may not be able to return until after the court settles the case. It is not uncommon for a divorce case to take up to a full year to settle. In most cases it is better to stay in the house unless there are issues of abuse or violence present. When a spouse is violent, you may have to leave the home to protect yourself and any children that may unfortunately also be involved.
When dealing with extramarital affairs in a divorce, honesty may not always be the best policy, at least not at first. Do not discuss extramarital affairs with your spouse or anyone else until you’ve spoken with an attorney about it. Extramarital affairs during the marriage and during a period of separation could end up costing you money in the form of larger and longer lasting alimony payments. Judges in many jurisdictions are allowed to consider evidence of fault when awarding alimony even though no-fault divorces do not require proof of a particular fault. Don’t be in a big rush to tell all your secrets to the world.
One thing you can do before filing for divorce is to take physical possession of certain assets that you want to be able to continue to use throughout the case, like the cars and furniture you use everyday. Try to get possession of any other assets that are at risk of being sold off or liquidated by your spouse like precious gems, collectibles, cash, and bonds too. An attorney can also help you get a restraining order injunction that prevents your spouse from transferring or disposing of any property covered by the restraining order.
It might sound a bit calculating, but protecting your financial position might mean that you will have to close any joint credit card accounts and block your spouse’s access to all other joint credit. You’ll also need to close all joint bank accounts and open new accounts in your own individual name. The goal is to make sure you come away from the divorce with your finances as intact as possible and that you spend your own money last.