The following are some helpful hints if you are thinking about a divorce, and are designed to prepare you for your initial consultation at our office.
Mail — Review all mail that comes into the marital home and make a list of the sender and return address. It is particularly important to know the addresses of brokerage houses, insurance companies, credit card issues, banks, etc. Caveat: do not open your spouse’s mail unless your name is also on it.
Personal mail — Open a post office box or arrange for your mail to be sent to an address other than the marital home for your privacy and assurance of receiving all of your mail. A change of address notice should be filed with the post office.
Marital finances — Remain “in touch” with the personal finances of your marriage. Review all monthly bank statements and brokerage statements and make copies. Give copies of necessary documents to your attorney for safekeeping.
Tax returns — Review all tax returns filed jointly or separately by your spouse. Demand explanations as to any item that may be questionable before signing. Make and keep copies of tax returns for the last several years (including all schedules and attachments).
Taxes owed — Make certain that all taxes owed to the federal government or other taxing agencies are paid to date.
Safe deposit boxes — Know their location. Inventory and periodically review the contents of any safe deposit box. List the contents (including cash and jewelry). Make sure all safe deposit boxes are in joint names.
Business interests — Familiarize yourself with your spouse’s business interests. Become and stay involved and apprised of financial information regarding the business by getting your information “first hand”.
Marital assets — Do not transfer, assign or make a gift (even to spouse, children or parents) of any marital asset. Separate or close all joint credit card or bank accounts. Credit cards in joint names may encourage large personal purchases by your spouse. Reduce credit limit to minimum.
Pension plans — If you or your spouse have a pension plan or other retirement benefits, try to determine when the pension benefits become payable. You have an interest in your spouse’s pension and retirement plans even if not vested.
Wills and trusts — Obtain copies of any wills or trust agreements and participate actively in any estate planning.
Loans — Review and make copies of all loan documents, mortgage information/applications, and financial statements.
Signature — Do not sign any financial instruments in blank. Know what you are signing and always keep a copy.
Medical — Have a complete medical and dental check up. Familiarize yourself with you or your spouse’s health benefit plans. Make certain you have medical and hospital insurance benefits in the event of separation.
Social Security — For purposes of receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s earnings, make certain you are married at least 10 years before filing for divorce (or at least avoid being divorced prior to this time).
Automobile — Make certain your automobile is in good working condition. Reliable transportation is a necessity.
Insurance — Review and make copies of all insurance policies relating to the marital residence, furnishings, or other assets; including any riders for jewelry, collectibles or other valuables. Make copies of any appraisals prepared.
Indebtedness — Do not create any additional indebtedness and make no large purchases (such as a boat, new car, etc).
Inheritances — Keep all inheritances or gifted property separate from the marital estate. Do not place in joint names.
Your employment — Don’t quit work if you are employed! It is important to secure your future financial independence and to earn enough to maintain assets such as your home and vehicle as well as to support your children.
Residence — Don’t move out of the marital residence without consulting with your attorney.