Going through the heartbreak of divorce is extremely tough, especially if you have children. You need to be strong for them while battling with your own emotions. Your immediate concern is to protect yourself in a divorce and secure your kids’ future. This means keeping your finances in order and seeking a lawyer to help you navigate the divorce process. You need a divorce lawyer with a stellar track record who will represent you in court and provide counsel on what you should do.
You need to protect yourself in the following ways:
1. Protect yourself financially.
If you have a joint bank account, safeguard your share by removing half of the account balance. Notify your ex-spouse that you get your portion of the account through a letter or email. Open an individual account and deposit the money.
Identify all your assets and clarify the properties that belong to you. The more you establish that you have the capacity of raising your children, the better chances to get custody rights. It is also important to stop paying for your pension plan and retirement account if your ex-spouse is included in your plan. Talk to your employer about it and stop paying for the portion that entitles his claim to your money in the future. The money you save will augment your take-home check.
2. Protect your custody rights.
Do not move out of your home and leave the kids because it would affect your chance at custody prospects. This may seem an unreasonable reason, but the court always based its custody decision on “the best interest of the child.” If you move out, it would mean not spending time with your children and can ruin your custody claims.
If moving out seems to be the best option in protecting yourself from violence or a toxic relationship, it is best to establish a parenting plan and schedule. It should be a written agreement in the presence of your lawyer. This parenting agreement is also proof that you are not giving your custodial rights. If you do not reach a mutual agreement, your lawyer can appeal to the court for a shared parenting schedule.
3. Protect your valuable personal property.
Before you decide to move out, secure all your valuable personal properties like personal mementos, collections, photos, and documents. If you can transfer them to a safe storage space where your ex does not have access, the better. For personal belongings that you cannot take with you, take photos as proof. This will ensure them from being intentionally damaged or thrown out. Let your ex know that you have documented them.
Joint records are important documents in the divorce proceedings, so make sure to show the original to your lawyer and have copies. They include real estate deeds, titles, records, tax returns, bank statements, loan documents, credit histories, life insurance policies, retirement papers, and other important financial paperwork.
4. Protect your rights on common properties.
Separated couples would naturally want to live apart from each other. If the house is in your spouse’s name, you need to register your interest. Otherwise, your ex can sell it without your permission or legally re-mortgage the property. If your home is a conjugal property, you have the right to stay there with your children. But as the State laws require all marital properties of divorced couples to be divided equally, the one who stays should pay the share of the other or give another property of comparable value. You can also talk about selling other properties and divide the money.
You cannot take common possessions with you, so catalog them using a video camera. Make two copies of the material and send the other one to your ex and keep yours in safe storage. When recording, it is important to make the date of recording visible or hold up anything that shows the date. Move around the house and take out everything from cabinets, shelves, or rooms that you want to document. This would make everything easier when it is time to sell the items.
5. Protect your children.
If there is an issue of domestic violence, your primary concern is to protect yourself and your children. Leaving the house is the safest thing to do. At this point, you need your family lawyer’s intervention to obtain a court order for temporary custody of your child/children. Without this order, you can be accused of kidnapping.
If there is no violence involved, understand that you still cannot take your children with you, especially if you are going across state lines. If your ex-spouse is the one leaving, you can get a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent this from happening.
6. Protect yourself.
You need to take care of yourself physically and mentally. You have a rough road ahead, so it is important to be clear-headed. You can talk to a therapist or join a divorce support group. Record everything significant in a journal, especially information related to divorce and children. Do not sign any documents without consulting your divorce lawyer. Prepare yourself against false claims from your ex-spouse and call the police if your ex attempts to threaten you or your children.
Ultimately, hiring the services of a reputable and high-skilled divorce attorney who can protect your best interests is the best protection you can give to yourself.