When you make the decision to get a divorce, both family members and friends will often chime in with well-meaning, sensible advice. Unfortunately, common sense advice can sometimes put you at a disadvantage -- and this is why you should always speak with an attorney first.
1. Leaving Your House
Leaving your home is often considered to be abandonment. When you abandon your marital home, it puts you at a disadvantage even if your spouse asked you to leave. Unless there is a restraining order or similar legal issue at play, you should stay within the property -- even if you don't necessarily want to interact with your spouse. This is especially true if you have children.
On the flip side, you cannot and should not change the locks to lock your spouse out of the property, unless you have gone through the appropriate legal channels.
2. Emptying Out Your Bank Account
If you've been supporting a spouse who hasn't been working and they have now left you, it may seem like the rational response to cut them out. You might empty your bank account and cancel their credit cards. In fact, many people will likely tell you to do exactly that. But that is never advisable until you have talked to your attorney. In most states, your finances are combined until they are legally separated. However, you should start monitoring your financial accounts very carefully.
3. Start Running Up Debt
This often comes from a misunderstanding that all marital debts are considered to be shared debt. This is not generally true if the debt occurs after you and your spouse have separated, and it's also not always applicable to debts that aren't considered part of the "household" expenses. In other words, running up massive amounts of debt is more likely to harm your own financial situation than your future ex-spouse's financial situation.
4. Make an Oral Agreement
When you are eager to settle a divorce quickly, you might be inclined to make an oral agreement before seeing an attorney. This isn't a good idea; if the negotiations turn sour later on, the oral agreement may complicate things. Furthermore, you might not have a complete legal understanding of the ramifications of this agreement. For instance, you might agree on a certain amount of alimony without the knowledge of precisely how much debt or monthly expenses you will acquire following the divorce.
Many individuals discuss the possibility of a divorce with an attorney before they even discuss it with their spouse. Often, the person who "lawyers up" first will have a benefit throughout the process, as they will be more prepared to deal with the coming changes. A divorce does not have to be an inherently combative experience -- your spouse does not have to be your enemy -- but most people will still benefit from taking action to protect themselves.Share
21 May 2015
My name is Laura, and I am an attorney specializing in helping clients leave violent marriages. The law can help victims be safe, but many potential clients cannot afford legal services and may be afraid to pursue divorce. They may not be aware of services that have been created to keep them hidden from violent ex-partners and to help them be awarded assets in a divorce so they can provide for themselves and their families. I hope to raise awareness of these issues as well as help direct people in danger to facilities where they can receive guidance and financial assistance.