So the time has come. You (or your spouse) have decided that it is time for a divorce. Kids may or may not be involved, debt is probably involved, there is property and “stuff” involved.
What are the first steps? you may ask. Thankfully, the first steps are relatively simple.
FIRST, locate and secure all of your private documents, birth certificates, taxes, bank statements, computer passwords etc. These documents will be vital to show the accurate figures and the paper-trail of how certain funds were used. It is NOT our position that you get rid of these documents… Just that you make sure you have copies or the originals, and that they are safe.
SECOND, secure your accounts. Verify that you have enough money to hire a lawyer, rent an apartment, or care for your children. If you expect to continue to live in the marital home, make sure you have access to the funds necessary to do so. It is possible to ask the Court for an order granting exclusive use of the marital home, but this is not guaranteed.
Any pre-filing financial preparation should be done with the knowledge that these funds are probably marital funds. Therefore it is not appropriate to lock the other spouse out of marital accounts, or to unilaterally stop paying on marital bills. This conversation should take place with a lawyer immediately.
THIRD, make sure that the kids are safe and taken care of in a stable environment. The Courts do not want to impact the children’s lives simply because their parents are choosing to get a divorce. In fact, the Courts will generally defer to parents who agree on a custody / parenting time schedule. That means that if the parents can come up with a working schedule on their own; the Courts will follow it.
FINALLY, take the high road and consult a lawyer. Many parties decide early on that they want to fight fight fight. The Courts don’t particularly like this attitude when it comes to bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the kids, hiding of assets, squandering of assets, violence or threats to the other party, and unilateral decision-making by one party. There is a time and a place not to back down on an issue. But rudeness, cruelty, and trickiness will generally hurt your case far more than it will help.
Once you have taken care of these things, you are ready to go talk to a lawyer. Bring your financial paperwork with you for your initial consultation and know exactly what it is that you want from the divorce. Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether your wishes can be achieved.
Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.