Helpful tips if you find yourself anticipating a divorce

submitted by Stark & Stark, Attorneys at Law

Divorce can undoubtedly become a stressful and frightening event in a person’s life. If you find yourself feeling like a divorce may be on the horizon, keep in mind the following steps which can help to protect you and your children, and to avoid what may be a substantial amount of stress, pain, and overall financial and emotional instability: 

  1. Protect yourself and your children. If your spouse becomes physically aggressive or violent, or makes non-physical threats or harasses you, contact the police immediately. You may be eligible for a Protection from Abuse Order, a powerful legal tool to shield you from further abuse.
  2. Be informed. Collect all financial and personal documents, including copies of marriage and birth certificates, ownership records for any assets such as homes and vehicles, and bank, brokerage and credit card statements. Make sure you have a full understanding of the family’s income structure, assets, and debts. Knowledge is key in any divorce, and it can be more difficult to trace and track down property or find information if the divorce becomes adversarial.
  3. Inventory any property that you may want, or that has value. If a divorce may become acrimonious or you feel physical items (for example, jewelry or artwork) may be removed from the home by your spouse, document its existence and consider storing elsewhere yourself temporarily to prevent its disappearance.
  4. When possible, stay in the family home until you speak with your attorney, particularly if you have children. Once you leave, you may not be able to return easily.  Moving out without the children could affect custody determinations. Similarly, ensure that your children are not removed from your home with your spouse against your wishes, which could have a similar effect.
  5. Never sign any documents presented to you by your spouse before discussing it with an attorney. Signed documents could be construed as an agreement, an admission, or simply may be used as evidence against you.  
  6. Seek mental health professionals if needed. Divorce can affect you financially and emotionally, so if you suffer from mental health issues, your decision-making abilities may be affected.

In all, it is important to educate yourself, remain proactive and speak with an experienced matrimonial attorney as soon as reasonably possible to assess your options and discuss the challenges pertaining to your unique circumstances.

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