Getting Separated

Separation Agreements Cary

If you are planning to separate from your spouse, there are some important steps you need to take and a few things that you should avoid doing.  In order to help you, we’ve created a checklist that can help anyone who is planning on separating from his or her spouse.

  1. Gather financial documents.  Make copies of important financial papers and store them in a safe place somewhere outside of the marital residence.  Important financial papers include bank statements for checking, savings and mutual funds, 401k or other retirement account statements, stock accounts or investments like mutual funds, tax returns for the past 5 years (both business and personal), credit card statements, deeds and titles, mortgage statements and any other document that you think will be useful to identify an asset or debt and show its value on or near the date that you separate.
  2. Do a budget.   Get an understanding of what your monthly expenses are and what your income is and your spouse’s income is, both before and after taxes.  Be sure to figure out how much your basic utilities are, how much you can afford each month for rent or mortgage, and what kind of regular expenses you have.
  3. Make a printout.   If there are emails, text messages, photos, or other digital information (including Facebook pages and other social media accounts and postings) that you think show misconduct including substance abuse, threats, financial shenanigans, adultery, poor parenting, emotional abuse or just plain poor judgment on the part of your spouse, print them out and save them so that they cannot be lost, deleted, or altered.  They could prove important down the road.
  4. Agree on a schedule.  If you have children, try to agree on a schedule for custody before separating.  This is not always possible, especially if there are domestic violence or mental health issues involved.  However, the more you can do to maintain a regular schedule and a stable environment for your kids the better it will be for them.
  5. Consider counseling.  Divorce is immensely stressful for both you and for kids.  Consider getting some counseling to help you with any stress, anxiety or depression.  Do not be afraid that it will in any way stigmatize you or paint you in a negative light.  It is far more damaging to a party in Court to refuse to admit there is a problem than it is to be able to stand in front of a Judge and say “I got counseling because this is a tough time in my life.” It is also far better for you to make sure that you are taking care of yourself.  Also, consider counseling for your children.  Even kids who appear to be handling a separation well can use someone to talk to who is not a parent.
  6. Change your passwords.  Change them on all personal accounts, email, social media, phones and other accounts.  Change your privacy settings on social media accounts.
  7. Talk to an Attorney.  Before you go through with it, talk to an attorney so that you understand what kind of legal issues you are going to face, what your rights are, and what you do not have to put up with from an angry estranged spouse.
  8. DO NOT
    1. Change the locks when your spouse goes to work
    2. Throw all of your spouse’s belongings in the driveway
    3. Involve children in financial issues related to divorce or separation
    4. Involve children in any kind of litigation
    5. Talk badly or disparagingly about your spouse where the children could hear you
    6. Do or say anything that you would not be comfortable repeating to a Judge in an open courtroom.
    7. Close all the bank accounts
    8. Shut off the utilities
    9. Refuse to help support children
    10. Refuse to help a spouse pay bills when you know that he or she has no means of support without you.