How to Protect Yourself in a Divorce: 10 Important Steps to Take
While divorce rates are dropping, statistics show that newly married couples today have a 39% chance of getting divorced.
No newlywed thinks of divorcing. However, if you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage, a divorce might be the best thing for you.
However, divorce can be a hugely difficult process. Everyone should take certain measures to protect their interests when entering into divorce proceedings.
Read on as we tell you how to protect yourself in a divorce.
How to Protect Yourself in a Divorce
The following measures are the best steps you can take to ensure that your life isn’t derailed by your divorce.
1. Do Your Research
Before you initiate proceedings (perhaps even before you tell your spouse of your intentions) make sure you know what you’re getting into.
There are different provisions in relation to divorce law in different states. In California, for example, a marriage is considered long-term if it has lasted more than ten years. This classification limits the power of courts to set termination dates.
Get acquainted with the laws in your state, and the ways in which they apply to your situation.
2. Save Money
Some divorces are more expensive than others, but very few divorces are cheap.
Before you start the process of splitting up, make sure you’re in a financial position to do so. This may be difficult if your spouse is the main earner in the family. However, your position in a divorce process is greatly weakened if you don’t have the resources to live independently.
3. Assess All Jointly Held Finances
You should stop using any joint account that you hold with your spouse as soon as you know you intend to divorce them.
This is because these accounts will be assessed when your divorce is being processed. Any withdrawals you make from joint funds will have to be accounted for.
Equally, don’t lodge any funds into these accounts unnecessarily. If such funds are spent by your spouse, you may have difficulties recovering them during divorce proceedings.
It isn’t uncommon for spouses to raid joint accounts when they learn of an impending divorce. If you feel that your spouse might attempt something like this, this point is particularly relevant to you.
4. Make an Inventory of Your Assets
Make records of all your belongings that you had before you were married. If possible, collect evidence of the time at which you acquired them.
If your divorce becomes adversarial, your spouse may try to make unfair gains at your expense. Having evidence of your proprietary rights is one of the best ways to prevent them from doing this.
5. Get an Accurate Valuation of Those Assets
Once you have an inventory of everything that belongs to you, get everything on the list accurately valued.
This ensures that your spouse will not be able to understate the value of your financial contribution to the marriage.
6. Discuss Custody of Your Children
If you have dependent children, they will be your primary consideration during your divorce.
Once you and your spouse have agreed to separate, you need to have a frank discussion about the arrangements in relation to your children. Custody will generally be split somewhat evenly where both parents are competent guardians. However, the specifics of this can be difficult to work out.
7. Discuss the Situation With Your Kids
Communication with your children is critical. Depending on their age, you need to carefully consider how to explain the situation to them.
Children will always find divorce difficult. The process will be hugely challenging for them if they are old enough to understand it.
However, a sensible approach to it can make a world of difference. Speak to your children along with your spouse, and ensure that they understand that they have love and support from both of you, regardless of your marital situation.
8. Find Somewhere to Stay
Accommodation costs for newly separated people can add up quickly. Depending on your family or employment situation, you may not have the option of traveling to stay with relatives or friends.
This is another factor you should consider before telling your partner of your intentions. Once they know divorce is imminent, staying in the same house may no longer be an option.
9. Hire a Good Attorney
Nobody wants to have their personal affairs picked apart by strangers.
However, to properly protect your interests, you need a professional on your side.
When picking your attorney, look for specialist experience. If your usual lawyer is not well versed in divorce litigation, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere. Divorce proceedings can get complex, so you need an attorney with the right set of competencies.
It’s always important to do sufficient research into prospective hires. To find out more about the suitability of a lawyer or firm, read into their performance history or ask around about their reputation.
10. Try to Maintain Civility
This can be more difficult than all of the other steps on this list put together.
Marriages rarely end in perfectly amicable circumstances. Marriage is an emotionally charged relationship, and such intense feeling rarely just fades to indifference.
You and your partner may experience pain, bitterness, and anger towards each other. While this isn’t a pleasant place to be, it is perfectly normal.
However, to get the best possible outcome from your divorce, you should do your best to maintain a functional relationship with your spouse.
If your relationship is hostile, the process will be more stressful than necessary. It will take longer (and hence cost more) to come to agreements in negotiations. It may also have a detrimental effect on your children.
Additionally, any inappropriate behavior on your part may be held against you in court.
Ending Your Marriage the Right Way
Leaving your husband or wife is never easy. However, if you know how to protect yourself in a divorce, you can make the process as painless as possible.
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