Before separation, what do you need to start doing to protect yourself?
The decision to separate, and ultimately proceed towards divorce, cannot be taken lightly. A series of concerns and worries naturally crosses your mind. Will I maintain joint custody of the kids? Will I have to pay my spouse? Do I have to leave the house or does my spouse? How are the accounts divided up?
These questions often require complex answers. The purpose of this blog is to provide at a minimum a checklist for the reader to begin preparing to cross the difficult issues.
First, the priority is obviously the children. Where will the children stay? Do they vacate the home with one spouse or stay in the marital home with the other spouse? Without a Court order in place, neither parent has a greater right to the kids. As I tell clients, the spouses are in custody “limbo”. It is presumed, and should always be remembered, that parents have joint custody of their children until such time as adjudicated by a Court. That said, you have to start planning and accessing how to present evidence illustrating your active and substantial role in your kids lives. Consider their day to day routine and your role. Consider potential individuals, which include family and friends, who might be needed to verify your role. Consider concerns of the other spouse as a parent and what you might need to illustrate these concerns. Most importantly, consider what is in your children’s best interest. In any determination of custody, a Court’s overall consideration in a custody case rests on the notion of your children’s best interest. This standard is broad and hinges on the facts and circumstances in your case.
Second, in regards to finances, be sure to gather and be familiar with the entire picture of your family’s finances. Does your spouse have a retirement account? Do you know what the account balances are? What is the financial institution that holds the account? It is advisable to make copies of all financial records to be sure you have knowledge of the account information. You should also have copies of prior tax filings and family debts, including mortgage statements and credit card statements.
Distribution of monies in a divorce is done on an equitable, not even basis. This means that the Judge must make a detailed assessment regarding the facts and circumstances in your case to determine the equitable nature of distribution.
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding necessary considerations. The path towards divorce is challenging and requires expertise with practical, cost effective solutions. The attorney-client relationship in a divorce case is critical. The divorce attorney and client create a team with one goal in mind: success for the client. This never wavers throughout the course of our representation.
If you made the decision to proceed with a divorce and are looking to add a firm on your side to help you throughout the process, we stand ready to be on your team.
For more information and a free consultation, call 443-709-9999.