When considering the difficult possibility of filing for divorce, people should consider doing these things first to put themselves in a favorable position:
1) Know your finances first. It’s critical to have access to your financial records during the divorce process. Obtain general, if not detailed, knowledge of your assets, debts, income, and expenses prior to filing for divorce. Gather detailed financial information from other sources, such as contacting a business manager to acquire financial statements or calling an accountant to get tax returns. Remember that while all assets and debts are jointly owned in marriage, not all accounts may be shared between both spouses. Find out as much as you can about your total net worth before consulting an attorney in person.
2) Get your affairs in order. Be proactive about updating estate plans, signing wills, refinancing an asset and taking care of other financial transactions before pursuing a divorce. In California and some other states, once you file for divorce, automatic temporary restraining orders go into effect.
3) Set money aside. It’s common to keep an emergency fund to pay for living expenses in case you lose your job. The same holds true for divorce. Set aside a similar amount of liquid money (approximately six months’ worth of income, or more), especially if you have less control over the finances, because your spouse may cut you off when you file.
4) Keep a journal. When custody is at stake, keeping a journal can help demonstrate to the court your level of involvement with your children, and also a spouse’s lack of involvement. This journal may include relevant emails and text messages, as well as calendars showing activities you were present for and events your spouse missed.
5) Avoid social media mistakes. Social media has become powerful evidence in divorce cases. Refrain from posting compromising material such as sharing about drinking or partying. Everything you do through social media outlets is discoverable and if you go back and delete incriminating posts right before filing, you could be destroying evidence—which is illegal.
Divorce is one of the most difficult challenges you may face as an individual. When considering a lawyer, be sure to base your selection on who truly understands your needs and will tirelessly fight for your rights, even if it means going to court.
Lisa Helfend Meyer is the founder of Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, one of the country’s preeminent divorce firms, and serves as a trusted counselor and fearless advocate to clients that include celebrities, professional athletes, prominent business executives, and their spouses. Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© for seven years running, she has earned a national reputation for her expertise and success representing clients in complex and high-conflict marital dissolutions and custody disputes.
No legal advice is provided with this article. Please consult a qualified attorney. Visit molfamlaw.com for more information.