As soon as you learn your spouse has filed for divorce or you have decided to file yourself, you need to take action to protect yourself, your finances and your children (if you have any). Although you should never try to hide assets or empty out bank accounts, you may take appropriate steps in the name of your own best interests.
The following are a few suggestions to help you through an adversarial divorce:
- Stay in the home if you have children. If you move out right away, you damage your chances at maintaining custody (which is referred to as “primary time sharing” in Florida) and the home. However, you need to weigh this against any risk of domestic violence. If tension is going to rise to intolerable levels, consider working out a way to time-share the home.
- Do not allow your spouse to take the kids. Neither you nor your spouse have any right to take the children away from the home. Your spouse is free to go, but the children should stay if at all possible.
- Cancel any jointly owned credit cards. Speak with your spouse and inform him or her that you are going to cancel the cards — then do so immediately after you have had the conversation.
- Record all of your marital property. Make sure you have a full list of all property you own with your spouse to assist in the asset division process.
- Secure any valuable personal property you have. Although in many Jurisdictions you are not allowed to remove marital property from the house, you are almost always allowed to take items you own personally and lock them away.
- Work with an attorney. Your lawyer can be your guide throughout this often-overwhelming process. You should never take any action or sign any papers without consulting your attorney first, as a seemingly innocuous action could cause great harm to you in the future. Keep in mind, that laws differ from state to state, and what happens in typical cases may differ from Judge to Judge, even in the same courthouse.
- Get the police involved for domestic violence. If you are fearful for your safety or your spouse has already struck you or your children, call the police immediately. You have the right to protect yourself in these situations. However, you should only do this, if you are really fearful. If you make false allegations of abuse, this can back fire on you when the Judge considers who should get primary time sharing with the children.
Consult a dependable Jacksonville divorce attorney from Combs Greene, PA for the guidance and advice you need when dealing with tough family law issues.
Attorney Andrea Jevic contributed to this blog post.