SAN DIEGO, January 9, 2012 – Divorce season is upon us.
Divorce filings skyrocket in January. Many people hold off filing for divorce between Thanksgiving and Christmas to avoid disruption during the holidays. But the minute people get past their New Year’s Day hangover, the phones in my office start ringing and the rush is on.
Case in point: the latest celebrity divorce filing between comedian Russell Brand and singer Katy Perry.
Making the decision to get divorced is never easy. If you have been there, done that, no matter when you file you know it can be consuming and is usually the result of a thought processing lasting weeks, months, even years. If there are children involved, it is even more gut wrenching.
But once you have crossed that bridge in your mind, heart and soul, now is the time to be ruthlessly practical. You need to protect yourself and you need to protect your children. This is not selfish. This is healthy, this is smart and this is in your long-term best interests.
It is natural to feel overwhelmed, and there is a lot to do. As a family law attorney with experience representing hundred and hundreds of divorcing clients, there are some priorities you need address first, BEFORE you break the bad news, hire an attorney or file any paperwork. This advice applies equally to men and women, straight or gay.
- Make sure you get copies of all your financial records.
This includes bank statements, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, loans and any other debts. Some spouses tend to hide things. You will also be able to quickly tell and later prove if there are significant changes or movement of assets.
- Make sure you have a source of funds if you do not work outside the home.
For example, create an exit strategy with your attorney to take half of any community accounts and deposit them in an individual account of your own just before your spouse is served with the divorce papers.
- Make sure you disclose anything damaging about you and your situation to your attorney.
The last person you want to be blindsided by any misbehavior or skeletons in your closet is your attorney. He or she cannot help you to mitigate the impact if he or she knows nothing about it. Sure, it can be some embarrassing stuff to admit to extramarital affairs, criminal acts, struggles with your physical or mental health, or tweeting racy photos.
But believe me, divorce attorneys have heard it all and then some. We are not shockable, and we will not think less of you. Attorneys do not gossip. All information you disclose is protected by attorney/client privilege and will not be revealed. Most of it can be handled, but your attorney needs to know everything your spouse can throw at you so he or she can protect your interests. This is especially critical when children are involved. These are just the kind of issues that become a nightmare in child custody disputes.
- Listen to your attorney’s advice.
If your attorney tells you something or asks you to do something, there is a reason for it. Usually it is to protect your interests and make things easier (and maybe less costly) for you in the long run. We know how to engage the legal system to your best advantage, and we have plenty of experience that tells us what works and what does not work. Avoid putting a match to the money you are paying for good legal counsel by ignoring it.
Myra Chack Fleischer founded Fleischer & Associates in 2001 and serves as Lead Counsel with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Fleischer & Associates on Facebook and on Twitter @LawyerMyra
Copyright © 2012 by Fleischer & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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