There is the legal side to divorce and then there is the practical side. For people contemplating a divorce, the following are several pointers to consider before letting your spouse know you are considering a divorce.
Know your finances.
Once a divorce is commenced both parties will be required to make mandatory financial disclosure, including the exchange of financial documents and Statements of Net Worth. A Statement of Net Worth sets forth your assets, liabilities and expenses. It is critical that you know the extent of your assets and your spouses to make sure they are accurately reflected on both your Statement of Net Worth and theirs. It is essential that you know what banking accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance and real property are owned by you and your spouse. It is important to know whether you or your spouse have any business interests. It is equally important to know the extent of your marital liabilities, including credit card debt, mortgage balances, or any loan balances. If you or your spouse have large lines of credit available to you that have not been used (i.e., a home equity line of credit), you might need to close or place spending limits on these accounts before they become actual liabilities due to your spouse creating last minute debts.
Secure financial documents.
In order to prevent documents showing your assets and liabilities from disappearing during a divorce, make sure you have hard copies or digital copies of your marital income tax returns, business tax returns, banking account statements, investment account statements, life insurance policy statements, credit card statements and mortgage or loan statements. These documents are important to have readily available in case your attorney needs to make an application for interim maintenance, child support and counsel fees. By not having these documents available, it can delay your attorney from seeking relief on your behalf.
Secure important documents and items.
In order to avoid important documents from disappearing it is crucial that you secure them. These documents for both you and your children include passports, birth certificates, social security cards, religious certificates (for example, baptismal or confirmation certificates), car titles, bonds, stock certificates, school records, and medical records. It is also important that your secure family photographs and videos so they can be reproduced at a later date. It is important that you secure items which have both a financial and sentimental value. Examples of these items would be jewelry or artwork.
Secure your notes and recordings.
While many people contemplating divorce keep notes or recordings of events that occur in the marital residence, it is important that you protect these documents and recordings, because once they disappear, they are gone forever. If you have been keeping a diary regarding your marital situation, whether handwritten or digitally, secure it where your spouse does not have access to it. It is best to keep if out of the marital residence, your automobile or off of any joint electronic devices or cloud storage systems.
Secure your virtual information.
For your online accounts, change your passwords so that your spouse cannot access your email accounts, bank accounts, medical records, your cell phone or your tablet. It is best to establish a new email account to communicate with your attorney. If you have children, create a new email address and password to share with your spouse to access the children’s school or medical portals.