Divorcing is usually a very emotionally stressful experience. At a time
when you’re whole life is turned upside-down, it’s important
to be thinking with a clear head. And the less you know about the
divorce process, the more stressful it can be. To have a more positive
divorce experience, we encourage you to read this article, which provides excellent
information on surviving divorce.
When it comes to every aspect of divorce, it’s important that you
know your rights and responsibilities under California law, especially
as they pertain to
asset and debt division,
child support, and
child custody – you do not have to feel powerless when getting a divorce. Read
on as we help prepare you for your divorce journey.
Be Prepared for Battle
Claery & Hammond, LLP, we fully support the idea of a collaborative, amicable divorce, but at
the same time, it’s important for clients to be prepared for battle.
It doesn’t mean you need to be angry and bitter and treat your spouse
with utter animosity – it simply means you need to be “prepared”
for battle. In other words, don’t let your guard down. Don’t
let yourself be taken advantage of. Don’t say “yes”
to everything your spouse wants just because you feel guilty about the
divorce. Be rational, but don’t keep those defenses up.
Consult with an Attorney Before Filing
You may have just gotten in a huge blowout with your spouse and now you’re
in a rush to get in court and file for divorce; please don’t. Before
you file for divorce, do yourself a favor and consult with a divorce lawyer
from our firm. At your initial consultation, we can discuss our fees,
answer your questions, and provide the good advice you need early on.
We offer free consultations, so it doesn’t cost you a dime to get
the pressing advice you need. Also, we recommend meeting with your accountant
so they can explain the tax consequences of your divorce and any other
issues regarding your retirement accounts, stocks, and other investments.
Consider the Timing of Your Divorce
When getting a divorce, it’s good to consider the
timing. If you’re due for a bonus or a raise, you may want to file for divorce
sooner than later because after you file for divorce, the money you earn
is considered separate property. On the other hand, if your spouse is
expecting a big bonus or a raise, you may want to hold off on the divorce filing.
Have you been in a long-term marriage, one that is almost 10-years-old?
If you’re close to the 10-year mark, this is something to consider.
You see, in California, a marriage of long duration lasts 10 years or longer.
If you’ve been married close to 10 years, it may be wise to stick
it out until your next anniversary. Waiting until your 10th anniversary
can help you access more Social Security on your spouse’s earning
record after the divorce. Also, if you’re the lower-earning spouse,
it could mean you’re entitled to spousal support for a longer period
of time. But once you decide to divorce, be the one to file first. There
are advantages to filing for divorce before your spouse does.
Make Yourself Indispensable
Before you file for divorce, make yourself indispensable. How? By making
sure your name is on all utilities, bank accounts, investments, deeds
of trust, etc. and make sure that all accounts need joint signatures.
This way, you’re not in a vulnerable position and your spouse can’t
move money or drain accounts without your signature.
In addition to the above, make sure you have your hands on all of your
financial information. Make copies of all of your financial documents
before they “suddenly disappear” after you file for divorce.
We’re referring to tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents,
credit card bills, auto loans, life insurance policies, W-2 forms, loan
If you have assets, track them all down. It’s important that you
know exactly where every penny is. Such assets include bank accounts,
real estate, investments, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, jewelry, etc.
When you file for divorce, you and your spouse will have to disclose all
of your assets and debts, however, it’s not uncommon for a spouse
to be dishonest or less than forthcoming. California is a community property
state so you are entitled to half of all the income and assets acquired
during the marriage. Know what you’re entitled to.
Protect Your Credit
When you get a divorce, it’s vital that you protect your credit.
Do not co-sign anything for your spouse. If you have any joint credit
cards, remove your spouse from the accounts, pay them off or close them.
You want to sever all financial ties if possible. Also, if any joint accounts
survive the divorce for any reason and your spouse agrees to pay off a
debt, be aware that by law, you’re still liable for the debt regardless
of what the divorce decree says.
If your spouse fails to pay a joint debt after the divorce, it could ruin
your credit. Keep tabs on any joint accounts after the divorce and make
sure they are paid. Of course, the best solution is to eliminate all joint
accounts before the divorce is final.
What should you do about your money? Don’t drain the bank accounts.
Instead, separate the money. You can take half the money in your accounts
so you have some funds to live off of – you don’t want your
spouse to beat you to the money and take it all with them.
Does Your Spouse Have an Unfair Advantage?
To file for divorce, we invite you to
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP.