Clients often contact me after they have moved out of the home, and after they have therefore made mistakes that will make the divorce process a more difficult one. Oftentimes, I wish my clients would have called prior to their move so I could have given a few tips to make the transition easier on the family.
As such, here is a list of items a person should consider before moving out of the home or filing for divorce:
- Take along copies of important financial documents. During your divorce, you will need to provide documents showing what assets or debts you brought into the marriage, any accounting of how those assets were used to purchase other items during the marriage, statements reflecting the balances of your accounts at the time of separation, your tax returns, etc. Requiring your spouse to provide those documents with formal requests is time-consuming and expensive. As such, you should take a copy of all these items before leaving the home.
- Ensure you have enough money to live off of for a few months. Once you have filed for a divorce, automatic temporary restraining orders (what we in the legal field call “ATROs”) take effect. These ATROs prohibit you from making any financial changes or transactions without written approval from the other side. While you can ask for child or spousal support, it is usually several months before a judge will be able to make that decision. As such, try to ensure you have enough funds to survive in the meantime. Keep in mind that these funds will later be allocated to you in the overall property division.
- Clients calling when considering a separation often ask if they may take their children. The answer to this question is really best made on a case-by-case basis, so it is best to call an attorney for help making the decision. However, if you take the children with you, ensure that you are cooperative in providing the other parent with time with your children. Unless you have a very good reason, a judge will not be impressed if you have not allowed the children to see their father for the past two months.
- Update your wills, trusts and estate planning mechanisms. The ATROs mentioned above also prohibit you from making changes to your estate planning mechanisms during a divorce. As such, you will want to ensure these documents reflect circumstances that are acceptable until your divorce is finalized.
There are likely other issues that are specific to your case that should be addressed. Therefore, it is always best to seek the advice of legal counsel prior to your move.
– By Tess Reutzel, Esq.
* The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.