Divorce rates in China rose dramatically after the COVID-19 quarantine was lifted and its likely divorces will increase in the U.S. when restrictions are removed.  If you are considering a divorce, there are several things you should do immediately to get prepared.

Talk to Your Spouse.  If possible, discuss getting a divorce with your spouse.  Talk about future living arrangements, division of assets, and a parenting plan.  If you are concerned about safety, wait until you meet with a collaborative attorney who can advise you about the best path forward.  You may need a protective order.

Collect Financial Records.  Make copies of all your financial documents so you can evaluate your financial situation and your spouse can’t hide assets.  Search for these papers in your file cabinet or contact your bank, brokerage firm, insurance agent, and tax accountant for copies.  Collect bank statements, insurance policies, house papers (including the mortgage), vehicle registrations, car loans, lists of valuable personal property, retirement accounts, pension plans, trust funds, business interests, loans you have made, money you owe, and three years tax returns

Find a Collaborative Attorney.  Once you have copies of your financial records, find a qualified collaborative attorney who can advise you about your divorce.  Ask your family, friends, therapist, financial advisors, or your family attorney for recommendations.  Another excellent source of information about divorce attorneys is the Collaborative Divorce Texas website.  Experienced divorce professionals are members of this organization.  Search attorney websites for their education, years licensed to practice in Texas, and whether they are credentialed collaborative attorneys who have extensive experience and training. 

Protect Your Credit.  Once you have engaged a collaborative attorney, take steps to protect your credit. Request credit checks from the national rating services.  Note any delinquent accounts and pay particular attention to anything that seems unusual, such as a credit card you don’t know about.

Collaborative Financial Professional.  You will be happy to know a financial professional will be a member of the collaborative team and he or she can advise you about taxes and other financial issues.

Do you Need Individual Counseling?  If you are you experiencing emotional issues associated with the divorce consider seeing a personal counselor.  Also, talk to close friends and family to help you through your divorce.  Select friends who are good listeners, empathetic, and sensible enough to stop you making poor emotional decisions that might turn out to be a disaster.

Search for Hidden Assets.  Finding assets your spouse may be hiding is a task for the financial professional.  He or she will review credit cards, checking accounts, saving accounts, brokerage account statements, and tax returns looking for unusual purchases of jewelry or other expensive items, unexplained charges at hotels or airlines and unexplained withdrawals from savings or brokerage accounts.  Unexplained purchases don’t necessarily mean your spouse is hiding assets or has a paramour.  There may be an innocent explanation.

Make a Budget.  Review your expenses for the past year and develop a budget for your post-divorce household with the financial professional.  Note what you currently spend and then estimate what your personal expenses will be when you are divorced and living separately.

Get Your Own Credit Card.  If you don’t have a separate credit card in your own name, apply for one immediately.  Once you decide to divorce, discuss with your attorney whether you should ask financial institutions to protect your assets from plunder by your spouse.  For example, you might ask your bank to require two signatures for all significant purchases or withdrawals.  This simple tactic can give you both peace of mind.  Once you have done all these things, you are ready to make an intelligent decision about whether to divorce.

 List All Assets.
  •   Real Estate
  •   Bank and brokerage accounts
  •   Retirement accounts
  •   Life insurance policies
  •   Vehicles owned
  •  College savings accounts
  •  Stock options and deferred compensation
  List All Debts.
  • Mortgage
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit cards
  • Medical bills

Getting ready for a divorce is complicated.  Collect financial documents, open a safe deposit box to store birth certificates, wills, social security cards, car titles, etc.  Also, open a post office box where you can receive private personal mail away from your spouse.  Change your e-mail account, record all passwords, keep a journal of important events, open a checking and savings account in your own name, be careful about what you post on social media, and keep track of cash expenditures.  Finally, contact an collaborative attorney to help you through this difficult time.

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