If you’ve had a tumultuous marriage, you may be in for an equally tumultuous divorce. You need to plan ahead. Whether the issues are safety, mental health, abuse, or otherwise, high-conflict divorce planning helps to foster a better performance and outcome.
Do as much of the following as time and safety allows. Once the cat is out of the bag, you likely will not be able to preplan any longer.
Consider doing the following:
- Buy a portable hard drive and back up all computers/devices with all data and pictures (or use cloud-based backup with strong passwords).
- Get copies of all bank accounts and tax returns for the last three years, in addition to other financial data for tracing non-marital assets, gifts, or inheritance. Get a head start on gathering the documents you will need during the divorce proceedings.
- Change ALL of your passwords.
- Set aside enough cash for living expenses – at least 3-6 months’ worth – and deposit into a separate account in your name only.
- Update your will and exclude your husband. Also amend your Power of Attorney, Medical Power or Attorney, Designation of Agent for Remains, and any other estate planning documents.
- Be sure to change beneficiaries on your life insurance, IRA, and retirement accounts. Note: Sometimes you cannot do this until you are officially divorced, but try to do whatever you can now.
- Open a credit card in your name only.
- Get your own cell phone and use great passwords so your spouse cannot break into it.
- Add your attorney to your contacts under an alternate, unsuspicious name.
- Be prepared to take anything you want from the house when someone leaves.
- If you are leaving the house, take photos of the belongings you leave behind. If you are staying in the house, take photos and video of everything as is, currently, so that you can note whatever goes “missing.”
- Open a new email account and use it to correspond with attorneys and others related to your divorce.
- Get a mailbox at a UPS store and start using that address for any and all personal mail/packages. (Did you know? You can go onto the U.S. Postal Service website and sign up to view incoming mail and track incoming packages.)
- If you have not done so already, start seeing psychologist to counsel you through your own transition issues. Join and attend appropriate support group meetings.
- Consider getting a counselor for your kids, as well. Understand, your husband may be able to block them from getting counseling. This is often the first sign of his bad parenting.
- Hire a highly experienced divorce attorney and fund the retainer. If your attorney recommends it, meet with other prominent divorce attorneys to conflict them out of the case.
- Be mindful of social media and other pictures, texts, and emails. Remember: anything you post or publish is fodder for the judge to look at.
- Maintain your image and have “clean hands.” Divorce is not a good time to start bad habits.
Admittedly, high-conflict divorce planning can be daunting. The experienced divorce attorneys at SIEGELLAW can help you navigate it. A successful strategy requires preparation, as well as understanding that safety – for you and for your family – must come first.
Fill out the form on this page to request additional information or call SIEGELLAW today at 410-792-2300 to learn more.