What to Do Before Telling Your Spouse You're Filing for Divorce
If you have come to the decision to end your marriage, you need to start planning your divorce right now, before you even let your spouse know that it’s over. If you just rush up to your spouse and tell them you are filing for divorce, you stand to complicate things significantly. Worse comes to worst, you might even remove a bit of an advantage you might have had if you had taken the time to prepare beforehand.
Follow this checklist of things to do before you tell your spouse you want a divorce:
- Copy Important Documents: Bank statements, receipts of large purchases, credit card records, tax returns, and so on should all be located, scanned, and copied for your own personal records. All of this will be crucial when it comes to property division later on. Just make certain you put back any physical records you use. If your spouse searches for them and cannot find them, it could be misinterpreted as your intentional wrongdoing to hurt their chances in the divorce.
- Duplicate Family Photos: At one point or another, child custody is going to come up in your divorce. When it does, expect that your spouse will do everything they can to get full or primary child custody rights. You can start improving your chances now, before you tell your spouse, by making copies of family photos or videos that show you as a loving, responsible parent. Once again, put back anything you duplicate so you can’t be accused of anything unsavory.
- Collect Identifying Information: Get the Social Security Number (SSN) of everyone in your family, as well as how to contact your children’s doctors, teachers, and caretakers. If your divorce is contested and arguments get heated, your spouse might try to make it difficult for you to get this information. Save yourself any hassle by getting it now.
- Undergo Medical Evaluation: Before you dedicate a portion of your money to alimony, make certain you are going to have it in the years to come by getting a medical checkup from your trusted physician. If you have developed any conditions that require treatment, it can reduce how much alimony you pay, or increase how much you collect. Also, if you are dependent on your spouse’s medical insurance coverage, it can’t hurt to get one last checkup while you are still insured.
- Understand and Monitor Your Credit: Review your credit report and identify what lines of credit are under both of your names. You may also want to consider telling your bank to put fraud monitoring on your account to ensure your spouse doesn’t try to secretly open a new credit line as soon as you tell them the marriage is over.
- Update Passwords: The digital age means your information is all over the place, on computers, websites, social media applications, and more. Change all of your passwords wherever they may be found. Stay away from obvious passwords that only change a number or that use a hint your spouse can probably guess.
- Test Yourself: This last bit of advice might seem out of left field but it can be enormously helpful. Get a drug and STD test – you don’t need to share the results immediately with your spouse, especially if each one is clean – to see how you’re holding up. Sometimes a vindictive spouse will try to accuse you of drug addiction or spreading an STD maliciously. Having your tests filed away to back up your claims is invaluable.
For more information about what to do to prepare for divorce, including the step of actually telling your spouse that you are filing, contact Catherine W. Real, P.A. The firm’s Tampa divorce attorney has been practicing law since 1979 and is highly-rated by past clients. Call 813.867.7936 to set up your initial consultation.