Sitting down with a divorce attorney is one of the first things you should do after a marital separation. But there are some steps that can be taken to protect yourself, even before consulting a divorce lawyer.
Bank Accounts After a Marital Separation
The first step to take after a separation is to separate your finances, by closing any joint bank accounts. As to any money in savings, you should discuss this with your divorce attorney. Ideally, the parties would agree to split the money, or use it to may marital debts. If one spouse takes all of the money, they would have to account to the other when marital property is eventually divided, but the other spouse may be left without a source of funds to meet their immediate needs.
No one involved in a divorce wants to be stuck with debts run up by their spouse – particularly if they were run up after the separation. Joint credit cards or lines of credit can either be closed, or the bank can be notified not to allow any new borrowing. Give your spouse fair notice that you are doing this, so he or she will know not to use that card, and can make other arrangements for any bills that are being paid automatically. Joint accounts for things such as cellphones, and automobile insurance should be separated. Utilities should be changed to be in the name of the person who will remain in the former marital home.
Documents Are Important in a Divorce!
You will need some basic documents to handle your finances in the future: things like tax returns, investment or property records. This is particularly important if your spouse was the one who handled the money during the marriage: your divorce lawyer will want to know what was owned during the marriage and at the time of separation. To be fair, make a copy, or scan these documents, rather than take the only copy.
Dividing Personal Property in a Divorce
Major items of property will be divided during a divorce, but there are many things of lesser value that are important to us. Your favorite coffee cup, your Grandfather’s fishing rods, etc. Ideally, you and your spouse should reach an agreement about these things, but make sure that you have them when you leave, or shortly thereafter. If your divorce ends up being contested, the court will want to focus on the larger items, and you don’t want to end up paying a divorce lawyer to chase after them for you.