Regardless of whether you’re initiating the divorce or have received the unhappy news recently, you need to tread carefully. Every move you make from now until the time you receive your final judgment could have an impact on what your life looks like when the divorce is done.
And there’s no guarantee your spouse won’t take steps to actively hamper you from achieving any kind of a fair settlement. Protect yourself by protecting these three, vital things.
#1: Copies of all financial records.
Get them the moment you know you’re getting a divorce. Bank statements, credit card statements, retirement accounts, stock certificates, business records. Get a copy of all of it. Remember, 40% of your divorce settlement will revolve around the way your money and assets are handled. You need a complete financial picture.
Put the copies in a safe place, like a safe deposit box only you can get to. Your divorce attorney will need to sort through them. If you wait until the divorce is already underway you might find many of these records have gotten “lost.” Mysteriously.
#2: A copy of your credit report.
Yes, you can get this at any time, but you want a snapshot of all your debts and open accounts prior to the start of the divorce. This will also help you uncover surprises, such as credit cards your spouse took out in your name, cards you know nothing about.
You’ll want to share this information with your lawyer as well, as the division of debt is also part of the divorce process.
#3: Precious non-marital property.
The family heirloom you’ve had since you graduated from high-school, and still had when you got married five years later. Photographs of family members and friends which matter to you. Sentimental items.
Your spouse may leave them alone. Or he or she might get really vindictive and destroy them just to hurt you a little bit more.
Just keep in mind safeguarding is not hiding. The courts may not agree something you took constituted non-marital property. Make sure you can put your hands on it again later if it turns out you need to turn that piece of property over to your spouse. Don’t hand this property over to a family member or a friend.
Try to locate any receipts or records which might indicate you owned certain property prior to the marriage, so you can prove the item should not be included in the equitable distribution process.
It depends. Every divorce is different.
Schedule your free consultation with Sadek and Cooper to find out. We’ll take a look at your situation and tell you if there are other records, pieces of evidence or bits of information you’ll want to retain and safeguard right now. We’ll also fight to help you put your best foot forward during the divorce process. Call today.