Choosing to end a marriage can be one of the hardest decisions you’ll make, but once you’ve made that choice, you have to protect yourself for the future. Before you separate or tell your spouse of your intentions, you want to have a plan in place to protect your safety, finances, and wellbeing. To help you, our divorce attorneys in Raleigh are sharing how to create a divorce exit strategy.
What Is a Divorce Exit Strategy?
A divorce exit strategy is a plan of action broken down into steps outlining what you need to do to separate from your spouse. While most people equate an exit strategy with a business decision, like a business partner divesting themselves of interest in the business, a divorce exit strategy is very similar. The goal is to have a plan in place that allows you to protect yourself and your assets and avoid making emotional decisions rather than logical ones. Typically, this is also kept secret from the other spouse until you let your spouse know that you would like a divorce.
Creating Your Divorce Exit Strategy
If there is no history of abuse or mistreatment, and you feel your divorce can be amicable, or at least, not contentious, it’s still important to protect yourself and begin separating yourself from the marriage with these steps.
Gathering Financial and Personal Documents
Begin gathering your personal and financial documents to keep in a safe location. This includes your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card, but don’t forget documents (or make copies) that you’ll need in the divorce to protect your belongings, including:
- Tax documents
- Mortgage information
- Credit card statements
- Bank account statements
- Vehicle ownership information
Also, if there is proof of infidelity, abuse, neglect of children, or anything that can assist you in your divorce, keep that information, including saving emails, text messages, and photographs.
Opening a Separate Bank Account
While you don’t want to pull all your joint banking account and savings into a separate bank account, go ahead and open a separate checking and savings account. If you have expendable income, begin putting money into it, if possible, but regardless, this will make it easier to handle your finances when you do separate from your spouse.
Rent a Storage Unit
If you’re concerned that your spouse may hide or destroy your documents or personal belongings, rent a storage unit and keep any personal belongings there, including valuable items that were yours before you got married. The idea of this is that if you have to leave quickly, you’ll have important items kept in a place your spouse can’t access.
Pack a Suitcase
If you are in an abusive relationship, or you feel you may have to leave quickly, keep a suitcase with clothing and personal care items ready to go. Keep this in your storage unit or in the trunk of your car.
List Your Assets
Begin inventorying assets and property, including televisions, valuables, and home furnishings being sure to note what is marital property (items purchased or received during the marriage) and separate property (items purchased prior to marriage or inherited). This will protect you in case your spouse tries to take marital property and make the equitable distribution of property less difficult.
Plan for Where You’ll Live
Whether you plan on staying in the marital home and asking your spouse to leave, get your own apartment, or stay with a loved one, you need a plan for where you will live once you separate. Make sure you have a plan in place for what may happen if your spouse becomes upset or aggressive when you tell them you want a divorce, especially if you plan on staying in your house.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
Contact a divorce attorney or family law attorney to help you know your rights and understand your options. They will walk you through the divorce process in North Carolina, including what to do for child custody and understanding the equitable distribution of property. Also, having a divorce lawyer on your side ensures you have an advocate who will help you meet your goals and fight to help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Tell Your Spouse
Telling your spouse you want a divorce may be the hardest step you’ll take, but it’s the final step of your divorce exit strategy. You can practice what you need to say, write it down, or have someone with you for support. If domestic violence is a factor, we absolutely recommend having someone else present or telling them in a public place for your protection.
If you genuinely feel it’s not safe to tell your spouse in person, you can leave a letter or leave when they are not home to go to your new living situation and have them served with divorce papers.
Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Attorney in Raleigh Today
If you are planning to divorce your spouse, we can help you navigate the challenging road ahead. From assisting you with child custody to fighting for an advantageous divorce settlement, we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals and move forward from your divorce with confidence and security. To schedule a consultation, call us today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out the contact form below.
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