Helpful Tips for Protecting Yourself When Your Spouse Files For Divorce

The chance of a couple divorcing is currently around 38%. In Colorado, the percentage is lower (according to where 10.9% of people age 15 and older are divorced.

If you and your spouse are constantly battling and you don't see a future for your marriage, now is the time to begin preparing for your divorce.

The end of a marriage is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Eventually, you can reinvent yourself, learn new skills, and laugh again. But before any of that can happen, you will need to deal with the practical aspects of divorce.

If you are in a complicated marriage, it is smart to protect yourself against any volatile situations that could erupt later on. Here are some things you may not have thought of.

1. Hire An Attorney

You may not know that you are not actually required to litigate a divorce. You can mediate or negotiate with your soon-to-be-former spouse.

The right attorney for your case will understand the different options available, and try to help you finalize your divorce as painlessly as possible. 

Ask your family and friends for referrals, and find out about their experience. Were phone calls and emails answered promptly? Did they feel that their needs were listened to and understood?

An attorney that specializes in family law will have dealt with cases similar to yours in the past. They will know what obstacles to expect, and how you can prioritize your interests.

2. Cancel Joint Credit Cards

If possible, try to pay down all of your debts now, as you will both likely be required to split any debt you incurred together while you were married. If you can get a second job or go back to school, you may wish to before the divorce gets finalized. This will also help prepare you to support your living expenses alone.

Canceling your joint credit cards now will only take a few minutes, and it could save you and your spouse thousands of dollars in joint debt. You should, however, maintain access to one credit card in your name only. This can get used in case of an emergency.

Do not change your beneficiaries on any insurance policies. If your spouse needs to get a separate insurance policy, it will happen after the divorce gets finalized and restraining orders are issued.

If you have a joint bank account, you and your spouse may choose to split it into separate personal accounts. Contact your lawyer and put this into writing. If you choose to handle joint accounts later, be sure to open up your own savings and checking accounts if you don't already have them.

3. Keep Tight Records

You will want to keep meticulous records of all bills and debts that you and your spouse pay for together. 

Gather all of your financial records together and keep them in a safe place. Keep track of how much you have in terms of cash, assets, and real estate. You will also want to list the contents of a safe deposit box, jewelry, and silverware.

If you suspect that some of your valued personal items may "disappear" before the divorce gets finalized, you may wish to create video documentation. Go through your house and make a note of all of its valuable contents. Make sure you open drawers and state the value of expensive items.

You can get your spouse a copy of the video documentation, or have them make the video along with you. If objects do go missing, you will have a solid, dated record of what was in your home.

4. Don't Sign Anything

You should not sign anything presented to you by your spouse until your attorney takes a look. Doing so may cause a property or custody battle to turn against you. You may be signing something that your attorney can't change later on.

If your spouse asks you to sign a document, politely tell them that you would like to, but your attorney has requested to look at all documents before you sign them.

5. Choose Your Words Carefully

When speaking to your children or family, it is critical that you don't say disparaging things about your spouse. It could get back to them and delay the divorce proceedings.

Treat your spouse with dignity, or you could make yourself look bad in the process. Don't make inappropriate comments on social media, as this can be documented. 

You should not file false police reports or call CPS unless the children really are in danger. If, however, your spouse really is violent, the police will need to be called.

Remember that moving out of your home too early could cause a custody battle later on. In some cases, "time-sharing" the family home will allow everyone's life to continue as normally as possible and protect your own interests at the same time.

In other cases, however, staying in a broken home could cause additional tension. This is especially true when one spouse is abusive, or if you are constantly fighting in front of the children. In these situations, it is best to find another living situation immediately. 

If you have children, remember that you will likely be seeing your spouse regularly  until your youngest turns eighteen. After that, you may still be meeting up at events like graduations and weddings. The best situation is one in which you and your spouse can speak amicably and wish one another the best in your new lives.

Protect Yourself

When your spouse files for divorce, you will need to protect yourself against a financial or custody situation that is unfair. Tight records, a good attorney, and a little tact could bring you an outcome that is better than you thought possible.

For professional assistance, contact us today.