Going through a divorce is bound to be emotionally taxing, no matter the circumstances. But even though you may be overwhelmed during this time, it's important to protect yourself. Even if you think your spouse would never act out of spite, you can never be too careful. While your divorce may not be straightforward, you may be able to make it much less complicated (and perhaps, much less painful) by taking the following precautions before filing and during the process.
- Look at joint accounts
Before you officially file for divorce, you should take a close look at your joint credit card and bank accounts. In many cases, you may want to close any joint accounts right away. This will ensure no other purchases can be made that you might have to take care of later on. While the account won't officially be closed until the balance is paid, this can minimize financial damage. You might also consider freezing your joint bank account or requiring a signature from both parties before a withdrawal can be made. Some people might be inclined to clean out bank accounts as a precautionary measure, but this can lead to legal trouble down the line. Ask your divorce lawyer for law help if you need it.
- Safeguard your data
You should definitely take precautionary measures to protect your finances, but you should also do the same with literally any other account you have. In the digital age, we keep a lot of our personal information online. If your passwords fall into the wrong hands, those hands can do some serious damage. Change all of your passwords right away for social media accounts, email addresses, and any other service you might use. Be sure that when you change them, you choose something your spouse would never guess and use different passwords across different platforms.
- Document everything
You should make copies of all pertinent legal records (deeds, finances, wills, leases) and even take a video inventory of everything in your home. You should make sure all belongings can be seen and that the video's date function is turned on. This can help you later on if objects go "missing" or your spouse refutes something existed.
- Keep the kids at home
More than 1 million children are involved in divorce proceedings every year, and a nasty separation can get even worse when kids are factored in. In many cases, it's best if the children are able to remain in the family home. That way, their lives are disturbed as little as possible. If your spouse decides to move out, they should not automatically get to take the children with them. Try to work out a time-sharing agreement until proceedings are finalized to minimize disruption and stress.
- Find an attorney
Above all else, you're going to need law help during this time. Most divorce attorneys have seen it all. They're here to assist you when things get rough and to make sure your rights are protected. Even if your divorce is uncontested, it's still smart to have as much information as you possibly can. The law help provided by your attorney can make a huge difference in the final outcome of your separation.
By taking steps to protect yourself, your family, and your assets, you'll be in a better position to negotiate terms and have the strength you need to get through this tough time. Be sure to contact a reputable attorney for any law help you require before you file, as well as during the process.