Five Things To Do Before You Get Divorced
By: Jodi Furr Colton
If you are in an unhappy marriage, you may be considering getting advice from a divorce attorney. As you prepare for the initial consultation and what may be an impending divorce, consider taking the following steps:
Gather all your financial information.
For virtually every divorce in Florida you are required to make full disclosure of your finances to your spouse. The more you have gathered before you see an attorney, the faster the process will be. Either print out or make copies of the last three months of your bank, brokerage, retirement and credit card statements. Most of these types of statements are readily accessible online. You will also need your last three tax returns. If you don’t have them your accountant might. It is preferable to make copies rather than taking the originals. First, your spouse might notice they are gone and wonder why, and second, your spouse’s attorney will want to see them too. There is no advantage to making these key documents difficult to find.
Get a new email address.
Your attorney will probably tell you to get a new email address just for the divorce. This makes sense for a few reasons. Most attorneys will want to communicate with you by email. As the postal service will tell you, no one “mails” mail anymore. Your attorney will most likely email you all the legal documents and correspondence relating to your case. A separate email address allows you to keep all of your “divorce stuff” in one place, rather than mixing it with your personal email—or worse, your work email. Opening a new email account also makes it less likely that you will accidentally send your spouse an email intended for your attorney. Most importantly, more often than not, spouses are reading each other’s email, particularly if they think something is amiss. Your spouse probably knows your email password or can guess it. Expect that he or she will try, and plan accordingly.
Change your passwords.
For the same reasons that you need a new email address, you also need to secure all of your other online activities with a password your spouse doesn’t know. Choose something that is impossible to guess, and if you share a computer make sure your computer does not “autofill” your username and password when a web page loads.
Do your research to find an attorney who is right for you and your situation. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations and do your own research. Then choose wisely because you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person. This person is going to be your voice; make sure you like the way that voice sounds.
Consider marriage counseling.
Getting divorced is usually an emotionally exhausting experience. It’s also expensive. You owe it to yourself and your children, if you have any, to make absolutely certain that divorce is your best option before you go down that path.
Jodi Furr Colton is a Boca Raton attorney with the law firm of Brinkley Morgan. She focuses her practice on divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, parental responsibility and timesharing. She can be reached at 561-241-3113.