When you believe that a divorce is imminent, taking preparatory steps can help you protect your assets as well as parental and legal rights. By keeping detailed records of property and documenting your relationship with your children, if any, you can better prepare yourself, and any evidence that may be required, for any future divorce action that may arise. Furthermore, learning about the divorce process may increase your likelihood of achieving your desired property and custody outcomes.
Protecting Parental Rights
If you have children and believe your wife is thinking about filing for divorce, it is generally not a good idea to leave the martial home. Moving out in preparation for divorce may compromise your right to custody of your children by creating a de facto custody arrangement in favor of your wife. To protect your parental rights, consider keeping a diary documenting the details of your relationship with your children. For example, you may want to record dates of meetings with your children’s teachers and coaches. This can provide evidence that you maintain an active parental relationship. Likewise, you may also want to compile photographs and videos that depict your positive relationship with your children.
In some instances, a wife may try to remove her husband from the couple’s martial home by filing a restraining order. To prevent this, you may want to assess your behavior carefully. In case your wife is audio or videotaping you, it may be a good idea to make an extra effort to control your temper and avoid making statements that could be taken out of context and used against you in court. Some states do not permit you to record a conversation without the consent of the other person, it may not be advisable to try to tape her statements or phone conversations.
When you believe that divorce is imminent, you may want to begin to document all of your income, assets, such as pensions, retirement plans and investment accounts, and liabilities, including mortgages, auto loans and consumer credit card accounts. Consider making copies of all bank statements, invoices, tax returns, pay stubs and other important financial records. Attorney Richard A. Joel also recommends requesting a copy of your credit report to gain a clearer picture of your financial situation. Additionally, you may want to list and photograph both your personal assets and joint marital assets to establish their existence. For example, you could photograph furniture, appliances, art, family heirlooms and vehicles, as well as smaller property, including dishes and smaller household items.
As preparation for a divorce, consider consulting divorce attorneys to learn about your property and parental rights, as well as the divorce process in your state. You should also consider the potential risks and benefits of appearing pro se—that is, without the representation of an attorney. Because divorce procedures vary from state to state, learning about the divorce requirements early on can help you know what to expect. Similarly, it may be helpful to retain a financial professional to help you formulate ways to protect your cash and assets.