You should treat your divorce like a business transaction: aside from the emotional aspects of breaking off a relationship, there are economic considerations such as separating finances and assets that belong to you and your spouse. In this article, Dallas family law attorney Tom M. Thomas II will give you a list of what you need to do to begin the divorce process:
Manage your liquid funds.
- Open a separate checking account.
- Put aside some cash in a safe place, so you can be prepared in case any bank accounts or credit cards are frozen during your divorce.
- Close joint bank accounts, if possible, and split the cash between you and your spouse in a way that both parties agree to.
- Close joint credit card accounts and make sure to get a credit card that’s in your own name. Any previous debt that was in the joint cards can be transferred to your and your spouse’s individual credit cards. Carefully monitor your credit report to make sure that your spouse hasn’t opened up a new joint card or applied for a new joint loan.
Manage your savings.
- Freeze and protect joint investment accounts to make sure that your spouse cannot withdraw cash or place loans against them. Get hard copies of your account statements.
- Ask the retirement plan administrator for a current statement of your spouse’s retirement plan, if he or she has one, as well as a copy of the plan description.
Make some personal provisions.
- List all the property in your home. Keep date-stamped photographs of the more valuable items.
- Get a post office box and a new email account so you can keep all your communications private.
- Change the passwords for your bank accounts, ATM cards, social networking sites, and email accounts. If your spouse has a duplicate key to your car, ask for it back.
Plan your career.
- Inform your boss that you’re going through a divorce, and make an offer to make up the work hours that you will miss because of it.
- If you do not have a job, start looking for a job. The job search includes updating your resume, writing cover letters, researching for jobs, and applying for interviews.
- Look into health insurance options. If you were dependent on your spouse’s health insurance, look into whether it’s available and if it’s affordable for you to continue coverage. Also research other insurance policies and compare.
Keep detailed records.
- Collect and organize information about everything you own (your assets) and everything you owe (your liabilities). This includes your bank and financial statements, your tax returns, insurance policies, and investment account statements.
- Think about what you’re willing to give up and what you want to keep.
- Write for your attorney a succinct account of your marriage that includes: the date you and your spouse moved in together, the marriage date, your children’s birth dates, whether there were any past separations, the dates you acquired various assets, and any separate property that you or your spouse inherited or acquired outside of the marriage.
Be Prepared to Abide by all Court Orders.
- Once filed, the Court that handles your case will probably quickly enter temporary orders addressing most of the issues referenced above. Violating these orders could land you in extremely hot water, so be mindful of them and abide by them.
If you’re going through a divorce, get the help you need from experienced Dallas family attorney Tom M. Thomas II, who can guide you through the process, step by step, and act as your advocate. For a free initial consultation, fill out the form on this page.