Now may be a tough time if you are considering divorce. Your mind is racing, your future is unsettled, and your questions are unanswered. But rest assured, there are things that you can do to prepare for divorce.
Here are the top 3 tips for you to consider when you are preparing for divorce.
1. Gather Your Financial Documents
As part of any divorce process, you and your spouse are going to need to divide your marital assets and debts. These could include funds in checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts. These would also include liabilities such as mortgages, credit cards, charge cards, and loans. Your marital assets might also include cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ethereum. You should make sure that you have access to (or make copies of) documents, statements, and/or screenshots reflecting all of these so you and your lawyer know what there is to divide.
You may also need to have an understanding of your family’s total income as part of your divorce process. If you have children, then income information is going to be important for the calculation of child support. Alimony may also be a component to your divorce. Accordingly, you should make sure that you have access to at least 3 years’ worth of tax returns (including business tax returns and all attachments), W-2’s, 1099’s, bank statements showing deposits, and pay stubs.
2. Change Your E-mail and Social Media Passwords
You are going to want to have private communications with your attorney and others who are supporting you. Your spouse may have access to your e-mail communications. The safe thing is to change your e-mail password so you can be confident that you can confide in your lawyer and others.
Though you likely will not be communicating with your lawyer via social media, you should probably change those passwords, too. You may be privately communicating with friends and family who are there to support you. Those communications are likely not for your spouse’s eyes. To be safe, change your passwords for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and any other social media account that you have.
3. Speak with a Collaborative Lawyer
The way you divorce will likely be dependent on which lawyer you speak with. Many lawyers are mainly familiar with the traditional divorce court system, where families are placed in an adversarial system that pits spouse versus spouse, parent versus parent. The traditional divorce court process is public, and so some of the most difficult times in your life might be recorded and forever accessible in a public court file.
Fortunately, more and more attorneys are becoming oriented towards Collaborative Divorce, a non-court-based option. A Collaborative Lawyer is there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement. This means that you will not spend any time, money, or emotional energy preparing for court battles, engaging in opposition research, or playing games with litigation tactics. The objective of the Collaborative Lawyer is to help you and your family move on with your lives while protecting you and your children from negative fallout.
You can take your future into your own hands. If you are headed towards divorce, make sure that you are prepared. If you have questions, contact us. We can help.
Adam B. Cordover is a Collaborative Lawyer and co-author of an American Bar Association book on Collaborative Practice. He is a member of the Board of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Adam has taught lawyers and others how to help families via the Collaborative Process by teaching courses throughout the U.S., Canada, France, and Israel.