Much of the divorce process is akin to a business transaction, and you and your spouse will have to separate your finances and assets. This blog entry includes a checklist of the steps you need to take at the start of the divorce process. Fulfilling these steps and working with a trustworthy Thousand Oaks family lawyer like Gary Mitchell will help your divorce progress as smoothly as possible.
1. Open up a separate checking account, if you don’t already have one. It’s OK to start off with a small amount. This is the first step toward financial independence.
2. Keep some cash at hand, and put it in a safe place. This is important because in a divorce proceeding, bank accounts and credit cards may get frozen, at least temporarily.
3. Close the joint bank accounts you share with your spouse and split the cash between yourselves. This is usually the best way to deal with joint bank accounts.
4. Close joint credit card accounts you share with your spouse and get a new credit card that’s solely in your own name. The debt on the joint credit card can be transferred to the individual cards, or you can call the credit card company to let them know that no new charges can be made on the joint credit card. Be vigilant about your credit report to make sure that your spouse hasn’t taken out a new joint credit card or applied for a joint loan.
5. Freeze your joint investment accounts. This is to make sure that your spouse cannot withdraw cash or place loans against them.
6. Get a current statement of your spouse’s retirement account and a copy of the plan’s description.
7. Come up with a detailed list of all the property that is in your home. Take photographs of the more valuable items and make sure there’s a date stamp on the photographs.
8. Rent a post office box and get a new email account so you can keep your communications private.
9. Change the passwords on all your email accounts, bank accounts, ATM cards, social networks, etc. In addition, if your spouse has a duplicate key to your car, ask for it back.
10. Alert your boss that you’re going through a divorce, and propose making up all the hours of work that you’ll miss because of the divorce proceedings.
11. Make plans to get a job, if you don’t already have one. This includes writing and updating your resume and cover letters, researching available jobs, and applying to get interviews.
12. If you get health insurance through your spouse’s insurance coverage, look into how much it costs to continue coverage. Compare the coverage with other insurance plans.
13. Keep records regarding all your assets (what you own) and your liabilities (what you owe). Gather your bank statements, financial statements, tax returns, insurance policies, and investment account information.
14. Give some thought into which assets you want to keep or give up.
15. Give your Thousand Oaks family lawyer a succinct description of your marriage, including: the exact date you and your spouse began to live together, the date or marriage, the birth dates of your children, previous separations, assets that you acquired jointly, and any separate property that you or your spouse brought into the marriage or inherited.
If you’re going through a divorce, dedicated Thousand Oaks family lawyer Gary Mitchell can help you by being your advocate throughout your divorce process. For a free initial consultation, simply fill out the form on this page or call his toll free telephone number, (888) 452-1846.
Gary Mitchell, Attorney at Law
Westlake Village Divorce Lawyer
4195 East Thousand Oaks Blvd Suite 240
Westlake Village, California 91362