How to Plan an Exit Strategy for Divorce
Model Divorce Exit Strategy & Checklist
First, Keep a Journal
Keep a journal of any and all facts, times, dates and events surrounding your marriage, children, and divorce. This evidence may be helpful to your attorney when representing you. Also, make sure you maintain the evidence in a secure location where your spouse will not find it.
Stay Active in the Lives of Your Children
Maintaining an active presence in the lives of your children will not only make the transition easier for them, but it will also place you in a better position regarding custody and child support matters. Keep note of this in your journal.
Gather important Documents & Protect Sensitive Information
Collect and maintain copies or records of important information, like financial, personal, and insurance related information. You will likely have to produce this information at some point during your divorce and getting it now saves time & money. Also, don't forget to protect sensitive information by privatizing important computer files if you are sharing a computer with your spouse. If you share common passwords or other credentials to computer files or online accounts, it is best to change those passwords - especially your email account. Also, forward any mail that may contain private or sensitive material to a Post Office box or a relative's address. Similarly, if changing your password on your email may raise too much suspicion, try opening a different email account with a password only you would know.
Create a Budget & Plan for the Future
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Being able to quickly ascertain the amount of your monthly income and expenses will be critical in completing the documents required for a divorce in Georgia. Your financial picture will change after divorce, take the time now to create a budget for yourself going forward. Along with creating a budget, research ways to support yourself if you are not already gainfully employed. If you are employed, stay employed. It is vital to ensure that you are able to support yourself and maintain assets like your home or car during what could be a prolonged process. Additionally, it is important to begin thinking about where you and your spouse will live during your separation. It is common for couples to live separately during the pendency of a divorce. So it is best to determine if you will stay in the marital home or relocate.
Avoid New or Additional Debt
Try to avoid accumulating any new or additional debt. All debts will have to be divided before the divorce is final. Accumulating new/additional debt will complicate your divorce and potentially cause issues. It is important to keep your assets as liquid as possible.
Sever the Financial Ties & Be Aware of Separate Property
Sever the financial ties between you and your spouse. Open and maintain a personal bank account at a different financial institution than your current accounts and your spouse's accounts. Some banks will improperly use accounts in one spouse's name within their bank as a source of funds for fees and overdrafts from other accounts. This is less likely to happen at a different financial institution. Keep enough money in this account to support yourself (and your children) during the pendency of the divorce. As discussed above, send those statements to another, private, address. Do not transfer or move funds that could possibly belong to your spouse. Seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney if you are unsure. Similarly, do not alter, transfer, assign, or make a gift of any marital assets that are titled in both you and your spouse's name. Seek the advice of a divorce attorney before taking any steps that may concern the separate property of your spouse.
Research Alternative Healthcare Options
Research alternative healthcare options if your coverage is tied to your spouse or their employer. If you are personally covered by your spouse's health insurance, please note that coverage will terminate at the end of your divorce.
Obtain Legal Advice from a Divorce Lawyer
Obtain legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your state. An experienced divorce lawyer may be able to provide you with more specific and personalized advice on what more you should do in order to prepare for your divorce. Coming to your first meeting with your journal and copies of relevant necessary documents will help your lawyer considerably.
Finally, Talk About The Divorce With Your Spouse
Once you have prepared yourself, it is time to begin the process of preparing your spouse for the eventuality of the divorce. Although the thought of announcing to your spouse your intentions for divorce may seem daunting, it is necessary. It is best to ensure that the initial conversation with your spouse about divorce is as pleasant as possible. This may seem counterintuitive; however, the initial conversations with your spouse will set the tone for the proceeding divorce litigation and post-divorce life. Remaining positive and calm will help with settlement negotiations, and it will also help establish the tone for your post-divorce relationship with your spouse Divorce is a difficult process and mitigating the emotional trauma throughout the process reduces the likelihood of permanent bitterness between spouses.
Gathering Information Before Divorce
You can't create a sound plan or strategy if you're not intimately familiar with all the critical facts and information of your case. Similarly, your lawyer won't be able to advise you properly without being familiar with all of the pertinent facts and information regarding your case. It is important to start gathering important relevant information and documents early on in your case. Doing so will not only save you time & money, but it will also help you create a solid exit strategy.