By Marlo Van Oorschot
Van Oorschot Law Group PC
Divorce is a tricky time for people because, while most people are aware of the basic things to do and not do (learned from friends, family, the internet and even their lawyer), it is sometimes the things not considered that end up tripping people up. While we have written about many of these more nuanced issues before, we decided to pull some of them together in one easy place to review with each topic linked to the full article previously written on the topic.
- Agree with your spouse that you will jointly tell the kids about the decision to divorce. If there is one thing both spouses hopefully can agree upon, it should be to make the divorce as easy as possible for the children. It is important that the children see that their parents are still united in their love for and parenting of them.
- Inventory all assets and liabilities. This does not mean just the stuff in the house; it includes all bank accounts, mortgages, credit cards, etc. Obtain statement copies or information on all account numbers and current balances. As for the household furniture and furnishings, take pictures or a video of the contents of the house.
- Stop using social media. It does not matter whether your social media is public or private; you should stop posting to social media because you never know who sees what and says what about your posts. While it may seem innocuous when you post a picture of yourself as you are having drinks with friends….it’s all fine until it’s not. For example, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may use the innocent picture to allege that you have a drinking problem or that you were out drinking when you were supposed to be taking care of the children. You cannot predict if your divorce will end up being contentious, and once you know, it may be too late to undo the damage a social media post might do to your case. Beware, however, you are not permitted to delete or otherwise destroy your social media posts as you have a duty to preserve evidence. So, just stop using it; even better, close your accounts.
- Put your death documents in order. No one ever thinks they or their soon-to-be ex-spouse will die during the relatively short widow of time during the divorce, let alone think about how it will impact the divorce, but it does happen. Therefore, it is critical that estate plans, deeds, health care directives and powers of attorney be updated when you know divorce is imminent.
- Be mindful about technology. Big Brother is watching, as they say. So, be mindful about your technology and protecting your privacy especially when a divorce is imminent.
- Living together during the divorce. People continue to live together during the divorce more frequently, especially nowadays due to the stay-at-home restrictions the COVID-19 pandemic placed on families. This state of living can be good for the children but also rife with potential problems. Thus, be mindful of the pros and cons in the effort to make this a successful transition time.
Divorce, like life itself, is not easy but knowledge and awareness will empower your journey. As Dr. Suess said “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”