If you are contemplating getting a divorce but haven’t started the process, this blog will tell you what steps you should take now to make sure you are prepared to file for divorce.
First and foremost, start making copies of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, car titles, property deeds, trust documents etc. These are all documents that may suddenly disappear once you file for divorce, either because your spouse took them or because they went and changed all the passwords to the accounts. So before that happens, make your copies now and store them in a safe place (preferably some place outside of the family residence).
If you anticipate a custody battle (which you should) you will also need documents relating to the children. The following are examples of documents I routinely request from my clients: report cards, certificates of attendance, IEP reports, medical records, photographs of you and children taken in the last six months, certificates of achievements, etc. These should also be stored in a safe place.
If you have children and anticipate that custody will be contested, start keeping a calendar of your spouse’s daily involvement with the children and your own. Buy yourself a small calendar (which you can keep in your car or office) and write down details that you may need later.
For example, if the children have an upcoming doctor’s appointment. Make a point of emailing your spouse to remind them about the appointment. Then on your calendar, make a note that you attended the doctor’s appointment and that your spouse did not. The same applies to school events or extra-curricular activities. You need to be able to explain, with great detail, your involvement in the children’s lives.
Also, make a note of the children’s daily schedule which includes: what time they get up, what they eat for breakfast, what time do they go to bed, what books they enjoy at bedtime. The courts know that a consistent schedule is best for children and will think favorably of a parent that has a set schedule for the children.
At school and at the doctor’s appointments, make an effort to get to know the children’s teacher and doctor by name. If in the future you need a letter establishing that you are the parent that attends every school event and parent-teacher conference, they will be more likely to want to help you.
If you and your spouse are still living in the same home, DO NOT move out of the family residence (unless you fear for your safety). If you want your spouse to move out, you can ask for a court order that you have exclusive use of the family residence.
If you have children, moving out of the family home and leaving the children with your spouse may have the negative effect of establishing your spouse has primary physical custody.
Please feel free to contact me for a consultation at 626-446-6442 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Norma Nogueda, Esq.
The Law Offices Of Vincet W Davis And Associates