Actions to Consider in Preparation for Divorce

February 19, 2013 - by Eric Anderson

The decision to get divorced isn't usually made lightly.  However, once you've made the decision to get divorced, there are certain things you can do to better prepare and protect yourself in the divorce process.  Please note that these are just a few preparations you can make, and everyone's circumstances are different.  What may be a good idea in one instance may be a bad idea in another.  You also may not wish to have your spouse find out about your preparations.  It is always a good idea to contact an attorney when contemplating a divorce because you do not want to take actions that may negatively affect the divorce proceedings. 

Property Inventory.  Make a list of the personal property in the household - at least the items of value or items that are important to you in the divorce.  Write down the name, description, and value of each item - and perhaps take pictures of some important items.  This is especially important if you plan on moving out of the homestead prior to or during the divorce proceedings.

Change Passwords.  Spouses are often aware of each other's passwords for things such as email, financial accounts, and social media accounts.  You should change these passwords to prevent your spouse from accessing or altering information in these accounts without your knowledge or permission.

Credit Report.  Everyone is entitled to one free credit report each year.  It is a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report, so that you have a clear picture of your debts and liabilities.  You can also ensure that there are not any debts in your name of which you are not aware.  Spouses often are surprised to learn that they are jointly on credit cards or loans with their spouse, especially if they did not play a role in the household finances.

New Checking Account.  It may be a good idea to open a new checking account in your own name, so that you can have more control over your finances during the divorce process.  You may also consider withdrawing funds from a joint checking/savings account to either prevent your spouse from draining the account or to provide yourself with finances during the divorce, depending on your circumstances.  Note that this action is likely to cause your spouse to notice your preparations and also that you will need to be accountable for this money in most circumstances.  

Financial Documentation.  Make copies of bank statements, tax returns, retirement statements, pay stubs, credit card statements, mortgage statements, loan balances, car titles, house titles, etc.  This is very important information to have when starting a divorce and during the process.  It can sometimes be more difficult to obtain later if you live separately or if you have a higher conflict divorce.  Therefore, it is crucial to have the information early in the process - and while you still have easy access to the information.

Remember, these are just a few things you can do to help protect yourself when contemplating or starting the divorce process.  Speak to a family law attorney for more information and advice regarding your specific situation.  

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.