As a Raleigh divorce attorney for the past 15 years, I have counseled countless clients on the steps to take before leaving the marital home and beginning a legal separation. While the following tips are not legally required, nor is this list all-inclusive, it has been my experience that the following steps can offer any separating spouse considerable protection in both legal and practical terms.
5 Tips For Beginning A Legal Separation in Raleigh
- Copy The Financial Records: Obtain copies of all important financial documents including, but not limited to – recent tax returns, bank statements, retirement statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, deeds, savings accounts, stock and brokerage accounts, and any other important financial documentation in the home. Make copies of the documents and do not take the originals unless this is your own separate financial documentation. Store these copies electronically, either on a CD or a jump drive, and make hard copies of the documents. If you do not have a copier, visit a local office supply store in Raleigh and they will be able to assist you. The key is to have ready access to all the important financial information of the marriage.
- Obtain Your Own P.O. Box and Email Account: Open a P.O. Box in Raleigh and a new, private email address. Place copies of your important financial documents, and any other valuable possessions in the safety deposit box. Do not access the new email address from your home computer or mobile device that your spouse can also use. Change all your important passwords and redirect all private communication to your new private email address. Also, redirect all private financial information by mail to your P.O Box in Raleigh. Keep the P.O. Box keys at work or in another safe place.
- Open Your Own Bank Accounts and Credit Cards: Open your own private checking and savings accounts at a local bank. This financial information shall not be kept private throughout your separation, but you shall be the only person with access or control. Open your own separate credit card account as well. The steps are meant to ensure control over your own money and to allow you to access funds as needed.
- Divide Savings and Limit Credit: If you have access to a shared savings or money market account, or other liquid funds, it may be appropriate to withdraw portion of these funds and place into your separate account. It is rarely a good idea to empty these accounts and to deposit the money in your separate account. Likewise it is rarely a good idea to unilaterally restrict all access to credit cards and other funds available to your spouse if it is within your power. Courts and divorce judges will often view this behavior is a form of financial misconduct and could punish you. On the other hand it is appropriate to take action to limit damage to your credit and ensure your own access to savings. In many cases I advise my clients to withdraw 50% of any savings, or more or less depending upon whether my client is the primary breadwinner in the family. I also often advise my clients to restrict or suspend extending credit on items such as home equity loans or large open lines of credit so long as the other spouse has access to reasonable funds via credit card or the remaining savings. The goal is to balance the risks of your spouse putting you in financial hardship and destroying your credit by essentially taking all of the available ready cash and credit while not appearing to restrict your spouses access to reasonable funds to live and obtain an attorney for the divorce process.
- Consult with an Experienced Raleigh Divorce Attorney: If at all possible, consult with a Raleigh divorce law firm before you leave. If domestic violence is involved, do whatever it takes to ensure your safety. If not, it is imperative to obtain the advice of an experienced Raleigh divorce lawyer prior to leaving the marital home.
-By Glenn Doyle, Partner at The Doyle Law Group, P.A.
Contact a Raleigh Divorce Attorney
Looking for a divorce law firm in Raleigh? The Doyle Law Group, P.A., Attorneys at Law has been representing Raleigh and Knightdale families for over 14 years, assisting them in divorce, spousal support, and child support cases. Talk to an experienced divorce and family law attorney today by calling 919-261-8018 or contacting them online!
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