Many people file for divorce, or receive their partner’s petition for divorce, and are totally unprepared. If they can plan ahead, it will make the divorce process easier and may level the playing field between the parties if the divorce becomes contentious.
Get All Your Paperwork in Order
You need to be sure you locate all the following and make copies for your own file:
- Tax returns.
- Deed to your home and deeds to all owned real estate.
- Insurance policies.
- Account statements for bank, investment, and retirement accounts.
- Credit card account statements.
- Mortgage and other loan documents, such as for your car, boat, motor home, student loans, or any other item you know you have a loan for.
It is also a good idea to get a copy of your credit reports. Those will help document accounts that you may not know about, such as accounts that may have been opened by your spouse without your knowledge.
Begin Planning for Your Future
Some other actions to take if possible:
Open a bank account. This should be an account only in your name in a different bank than where you have your joint account. You want to be sure your password is protected from discovery by your spouse. Any deposit made before your separation date will still be community property, but when the divorce process begins, you will already have a way to deposit funds in your own account and begin saving money for establishing your own separate household.
Establish a P.O. Box. If the divorce becomes contentious, you will not want your spouse to open your mail. A P.O. Box, or a private box, will help you keep private documents and communications secure and confidential from your spouse whether or not you plan on sharing any of it with your spouse. If nothing else, your P.O. Box should be used for communication between you and your attorney.
Get a new email account. Many spouses share passwords for each other’s email accounts. Get a new account so you know your email is private and your password kept secret.
Remove irreplaceable items and items that are your separate property. If you have family heirlooms or photos you want to protect, or expensive pieces of jewelry that were gifts to you, consider putting them in a safety deposit box during the contentious part of the divorce. If a spouse gets angry, those things could go missing.
Find a temporary living arrangement. If you worry your spouse may become hostile during the divorce process, it may be safer and less stressful if you find a temporary apartment or make arrangements with close friends or family before you have your spouse served with a divorce decree. This may be especially important if you have children you want to remove from your shared household at the beginning of your divorce.
Look for a new job. Many people, especially those with young children, are financially dependent on their spouse. In this case, it’s important that you find a way to support yourself and your children during and after the divorce. This may be reentering the workforce, or find a better-paying job position than your current occupation.
For more information about how to prepare for your divorce, contact the Whittemore Law Firm at 832-215-3706 for a free 20-minute consultation. We serve clients in The Woodlands, Conroe, Houston, Montgomery County, and Harris County areas. If you need help, Whittemore Law Firm can help you protect your rights and the rights of your children.