You see it all around you every January: people starting over. Starting diets, starting exercise plans, and starting, unfortunately for many, the process of divorce. Resolutions are easy to make but difficult to keep, largely because the process is unclear. Nowhere in the world of resolutions is this truer than for something like divorce. What steps do you take first? Which concerns should be priorities? How do you organize something as overwhelming as divorce?
Cooley & Handy has a number of ready tools to help you navigate, starting with our website. The Frequently Asked Questions tab includes a wealth of free information about the divorce process in Pennsylvania. It should be required reading for anybody entering or considering a divorce. The Family Law Glossary tab introduces you to the legal vocabulary of divorce, deepening your understanding of the process and the words through which it is adjudicated. A little knowledge goes a long way. Self-preparation can be a significant advantage.
In the meantime, here is a short list of steps you should consider taking if a divorce is on your horizon in 2015:
ONE: Cancel or close all joint credit, bank and investment accounts. You could be liable for any debt incurred by a spouse after separation, and funds can be dissipated. Separate accounts now, and keep hard records of everything that was in place on the day of separation.
TWO: Secure important or valuable personal property. Personal property tends to disappear or become damaged when divorce is threatened. You might consider renting a storage locker or moving valuables – particularly those you will need access to throughout the divorce -- to a trusted friend’s home.
THREE: Get a new mailing address. You do not want your spouse to be privy to your financial records or correspondence from your attorney. Get a P.O. box, or have mail sent to a friend or family member.
FOUR: Change your passwords on all accounts, computers, cell phones and emails. For obvious reasons.
FIVE: Do not take divorce advice from your friends, family, or co-workers. If it’s your divorce, it is a whole new terrain. Your advice should come from an attorney only. Which leads to step six.
SIX: Consult an attorney as soon as possible. Steps taken early in the process can make an enormous difference in your case, and so can any missteps. Get the best advice you can afford. We trust you know what step seven is, but in case you do not, here is a strong hint: 214.345.8000. Cooley & Handy Attorneys at Law. Get the help you need.