North Carolina Divorce Lawyer, Carole S. Gailor educates on Pre-Divorce Planning. Raleigh, NC — In most cases, trouble in a marriage develops over time and, when a separation occurs, however much it may be unwanted by one of the spouses, it is not a surprise. Yet, most people do not prepare themselves for the potential of a separation and divorce and find themselves in a difficult position when the separation occurs. During a period of turmoil in a marriage, which has the potential to lead to a separation and divorce, you can take steps which, in the event a separation occurs, can protect your financial interests, reduce your costs and attorney fees and promote a fair settlement.
1. MARRIAGE COUNSELING: If there are serious marital problems which talking does not resolve, you should engage in marriage counseling with a qualified, competent marriage counselor, assuming your spouse is willing. Often, if both husband and wife engage in counseling in good faith, and work hard, a marriage can be saved and continue with more intimacy and deeper understanding. If the request to your spouse to engage in marriage counseling is refused or your spouse quits after a few sessions, this is a strong message that your spouse may have already emotionally “checked out” of the marriage.
2. KEEP A JOURNAL: As marriage problems continue or escalate and emotions run high it may be difficult, over time, to concentrate and recall important events or information. As events occur, you should record them, in detail, in a journal as soon after the occurrence as possible. Include the date and time of the occurrence and as much detail as you can remember about the location, who was present and what was said. This is particularly important with regard to verbally abusive behavior and threats. If custody of children may become an issue, you should also record in the journal day to day caretaking of the children and who performed the caretaking responsibility such as Dr. appointments, taking the children to school, coaching, attending athletic events, participating in activities, homework and more. The journal should contain only factual events. Do not record your thoughts, fears, plans or daydreams. You should keep the journal in a safe place, where it is not accessible to your spouse and provide the journal to your attorney in the event that litigation seems likely. The journal will assist you in accurately recollecting past events and will help your credibility should you have to testify in court. However, remember, it may be possible, in the event of litigation, that the journal could be obtained by your spouse and his/her lawyer. This is why it is important to maintain a factually correct record of events.
3. STAY MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY HEALTHY: Marital problems create great emotional stress which, over time can have a physical impact. Make a point of eating a nutritionally sound diet, exercising consistently and engaging in other stress reducing activities such as getting massages. Make sure you have a support system whether that be friends or family members who can provide emotional support until the marital issues are resolved or if there is a separation. In the event that you feel a great deal of anxiety or suspect you are depressed you should contact a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist to obtain appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Anxiety and depression are common in divorce cases and you should not be afraid that having these conditions treated may adversely affect your case. Judges are more impressed with people who are self-aware and seek treatment when needed.
4. EVALUATE YOUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES: In the event a separation occurs, you are the dependent spouse and are not independently wealthy, you will need a source of funds to hire a lawyer and perhaps pay for other experts to assist you such as an accountant, appraisers or private investigator. During the period leading up to the separation you should make an effort to accumulate cash and open a bank account in your own name in a bank separate from the bank where your spouse may have an account or the joint account is maintained. Many spouses borrow money from friends or relatives out of necessity. If you do, be sure to sign a promissory note which demonstrates that the money is a loan you must repay and not a gift to you. Immediately prior to separation it is not uncommon for one spouse to take money from a joint account to ensure that the other spouse does not have access to it. If you are concerned that this may occur, you should consult an attorney about the appropriate course of action.
5. INVENTORY HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS: Most cases will involve distribution of property including household furniture and furnishings. Prior to a separation occurring, especially if you are the spouse who may leave the residence, you should inventory, in detail, all of the home furniture, furnishings and other assets, room by room. The inventory should contain the type of item, a brief description (“e.g. red loveseat”), condition and approximate age if known. In addition, you should take a picture of each large item and groups of smaller items, or better yet, use a video camera to identify all the items in each room. The focus should be on items that likely have value and not junk ( e.g. old, worn furniture or used carpeting) or non-essential items (e.g. cleaning products). Pay particular attention to items such as collectibles, art, coins, furs and collections. Don’t forget vehicles including cars, boats, snowmobiles, jet skis and the like. The same inventory should be done if you have a second home. If you have a safe deposit box, go to the bank and inventory the contents. You may want to remove personally owned items such as birth certificates or stock certificates which may have been gifted to you.
Please See part 2 of This Article.
Contributor: Carole S. Gailor: Carole S. Gailor Raleigh Family Law Attorney is a leading North Carolina Divorce Lawyer. She is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and a Fellow of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Ms. Gailor is a founding partner with North Carolina Family Law Firm of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC.
For more information:
North Carolina Family Law Firm – www.gailorwallishunt.com 1101 Haynes Street
Raleigh, NC 27604