Even in the most amicable divorces, you have to be prepared and there is no way of getting around that. As experienced divorce attorneys, we're offering you advice so you can protect yourself during a divorce.
1. Meet with professionals: Before you filing, meet with an experienced divorce lawyer, and your accountant to understand the tax consequences of divorce, and other issues pertaining to retirement plans, valuation of property, etc.
2. Ensure the timing is right: If your spouse is going to receive a big bonus or a raise in the near future, it may be to your benefit to wait, this way your spouse can't claim that it isn't marital property. If you've been in a long-term marriage, if you wait until the 10-year mark, it will help you get more of your spouse's Social Security.
3. Copy all important documents: Be sure to copy all of the important documents such as bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, W-2 forms, mortgage statements, and other loan agreements.
4. Start protecting your credit: You need good credit to restart your life after divorce, and you should start protecting your FICO score now. Don't co-sign for your husband or wife.
5. Calculate all assets: Track down all of your assets so you know where every penny is. This includes stocks, bonds, bank accounts, retirement accounts, jewelry, artwork, and anything of value. While spouses have to disclose their assets in a divorce, it's not uncommon for a spouse to be less than forthcoming.
6. Dust off your old resume: Even if the judge awards you spousal support, it doesn't last forever. The sooner you get financially independent, the better.
7. Document any physical abuse: If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, document all forms of abuse.
8. Don't believe the hype: If your spouse says you'll end up with nothing, or that you won't see the kids, or that you'll get kicked out of the house, don't fall for the hype. Spouses don't make these decisions, judges do. Half of the community property belongs to you.
9. Exercise discretion on social media: If you post to Facebook or Twitter during your divorce, do so with the utmost discretion. Social media is playing an increasingly greater role in divorce cases, and you don't want to say or post anything that can harm your case.
10. If child custody is contested, it's decided by the courts: In the absence of domestic violence, it's better to work something out with your spouse instead of having the courts get involved. If you can't agree, the court is obligated to decide who is in the best position to take care of the children. Assuming both parents are fit, most courts will award joint custody.
Are you seeking a San Fernando divorce lawyer? Call Cutter & Lax to meet with an attorney who is Board Certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in family law!