When you discover your spouse has filed for divorce, it may be a cause for celebration or a complete shock. In either case, if the divorce is likely to be contentious, you need to protect yourself, your children, your finances, and your assets. The following suggestions can help to safeguard you and your children physically, legally, and financially.
Protecting Custody Rights and Children
- Avoid Moving Out of Your Home if You Have Children: If you move out, you ruin your chances of gaining custody.
- Be Aware that the Children Cannot Leave: Neither parent should remove the children from the home, nor should they be taken across state lines.
- Demand Joint Custody: Regarding your children, you should immediately demand joint custody; otherwise, you may have to settle for less later.
Protecting Yourself Financially
- Cancel Joint Credit Cards: When cancelling joint credit cards, don’t let your spouse know; otherwise, your spouse could charge money to them.
- Safeguard Joint Bank Accounts: Withdraw half the balance in your joint account and open a new individual account at a different bank; otherwise, your spouse could clean out the account.
- Reduce Expenses: Talk with your spouse about which utilities to cancel and which property to sell. Otherwise, once separated, you may not be able to sell it if it is deemed “community property.”
Protecting Your Assets
- Move Records from the Home: Take personal records to a place your spouse cannot access. Make two copies of joint records, store one in a safe location, and give the other to your spouse. Take the originals to your attorney.
- Catalog Marital Property: Together with your spouse, catalog marital property using a video camera.
- Secure Valuable Personal Property: Store valuable personal items in a safe place, so that your spouse cannot take them.
Ways to Protect Yourself Personally
- Keep a Journal: Record events such as time spent with your children and phone calls, as well as all information regarding your divorce. Keep the journal in a secure location and be prepared to share entries as evidence.
- Sign No Documents without Consulting Your Attorney: Avoid signing papers that can cause property and custody battles to be decided against you. Some documents cannot be modified by an attorney later.
- Prepare for False Claims: Spouses can make false claims to gain control of custody proceedings. If this happens, immediately contact your family law attorney.
- Call the Police if Domestic Violence Occurs: If domestic violence occurs against you or your children, call the police. After any act of domestic violence, consider getting a restraining order against your spouse.
If you are going through a divorce and wish to take action to protect your legal rights, contact the Ghandi Selim Law Firm today for a consultation.