Many of our clients take the initial steps to file for divorce, but then don’t take the time to start preparing for moving forward until they receive instructions from their attorneys. In the event that they are pro se, they may not be aware of things that they can do to streamline their dissolution of marriage case. There are certain things that anyone going through a divorce or family law case in general can do, to prepare for what is next:
(1) Change your e-mail and social media passwords. Many people have access to their spouse or significant other’s email accounts and social media accounts. The other party may not be aware, or may have forgotten that their ex knows their passwords. Or, maybe they use the same password for everything and it would be an easy guess. I advise my clients to change their passwords on email and social media. I even tell them to change the security questions, because ex’s tend to know the answers to those, too.
(2) Start saving all bills, receipts and invoices, and get receipts for all cash transactions. I tell my clients to make a folder system and put each bill/receipt/invoice into its respective folder each month as the documents arrive, so they don’t have to order them later. A folder for utilities, a folder for children’s medical expenses, a folder for children’s child care expenses, a folder for mortgage statements, etc. This is more cost effective than having to order copies later.
(3) Keep copies of all bank statements. I also advise my clients to sign into online banking, if they are capable, and download all available statements. I advise them to do this once a month going forward. That way they may not have to order as many statements if there is a need for discovery.
(4) Slow down on social media usage. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a Judge to read later.
(5) Keep all text messages/e-mails/phone calls cordial. Once again, don’t write/say anything you wouldn’t want a Judge to see or hear about later.
(6) Closely monitor your credit and your children’s social security numbers. Watching your credit, as well as all joint credit card accounts, bank accounts, etc. It is helpful to watch these things for abnormal activity, since debts incurred during a marriage are divisible.
There are many things you can do to prepare for litigation, and these are just a small sampling of the many things you should be doing to prepare yourself for what is next in these situations.