No. 1: File first!
Once you are in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a divorce, there are certain actions which you should take to protect your interests. These suggestions are not appropriate in all cases. They are more relevant in cases which are expected to be contentious.
No. 2: If there are minor children, do not move out of the house
If you want custody of your children, moving out the marital home will significantly impair your claim. If you have moved out, move back in immediately. You could consider splitting use of the marital home with your spouse until custody has been determined and other issues are resolved.
No. 3: Obtain a temporary custody order
If you are concerned that your spouse may take the children to another state, you can obtain an order to prohibit them from being removed from Michigan. Without such an order, your spouse can legally do this. Fighting a custody battle across state lines is very difficult.
No. 4: Do not allow your spouse to leave the home with the minor children
If your spouse wants to leave the marital home, tell them that they’re free to go but the children stay. If your spouse does leave the home of the children, go to court as soon as possible and obtain an order requiring the children to be returned to their home.
No. 5: Obtain an attorney immediately
You do not want to be in divorce court without an experienced attorney. There are many traps for the unwary that may have lifelong implications. Find an attorney who has in-depth experience so that nothing is overlooked.
No. 6: Secure your personal documents outside of the marital home
Any important papers you have such as birth certificates, diplomas, pension papers, etc., should be stored in a place where your spouse does not have access to them, such as a friend or relative’s house or at work.
No. 7: Joint credit cards should be canceled
All joint credit cards should be canceled as soon as possible. You should advise your spouse before you cancel the cards. If your spouse charges up such credit cards, it is possible that you’ll have to pay one half of that debt.
No. 8: Protect jointly owned bank accounts
It is not uncommon for a bitter spouse to clean out a bank account. One option is to withdraw half of the account balance and inform your spouse you have done so. Open up a new account at a different bank. Make sure that arrangements are made with your spouse to take care of household bills and other marital obligations.
No. 9: Make a videotape of your property
Use a camcorder to make an inventory of all the items in the house. The videotape should be stored away from home. If any property comes up missing from the home, you will have a record of what has disappeared.
No. 10: Secure valuable items
If you have valuable items of personal property in the home such as jewelry, collections, memorabilia or personal mementos, take them to a safe place away from home.
No. 11: Keep a daily journal
You should keep a daily journal of significant events such as time spent with children, arguments with your spouse or any information that you discover which could affect your divorce.
No. 12: Don’t sign anything
Do not sign any settlements or agreements presented by your spouse. You may be signing something that will be used against you later. If your spouse wants you to the sign something, advise them that your attorney has ordered you not to sign anything before it has been reviewed.
No. 13: Stop contributions to retirement accounts
There is a good chance that half of all the money in your retirement account will be given to your spouse as part of the property settlement. Therefore, you should stop contributions to those accounts.
No. 14: Get a credit report
It is possible that your spouse has obtained credit in your name that you do you know about. Credit card offers regularly come in the mail, and it is very easy for your spouse to sign your name to such an offer. Once the divorce is final, you could find a creditor knocking at your door, looking to get paid.
Contact Aiello and Associates for help with your divorce. Give us a call at 586-250-5527 or send us a message online to schedule a free consultation.