Unless you are in a second or subsequent marriage, going through a divorce will be an entirely unfamiliar process. You will have lots of questions; and, while you will be able to ask your attorney many of your questions in advance, you will also encounter unexpected questions as you navigate your way through the divorce process.
When you have these questions, it will be important to have them answered, and you should not hesitate to ask your attorney for help. For example, here are seven questions you may find yourself pondering after you file (or your spouse files) for divorce:
1. Should You Keep the Originals of Your Financial Records or Make Copies?
During your divorce, you will need access to your personal and family financial records. This includes your paystubs and W-2s, as well as your tax returns, bank account statements, credit card statements, budget (if you have one), and any other records you may have pertaining to your household finances. When you are gathering these records, should you place the originals in a file to give to your attorney, or should you make copies?
As a general rule, you should be making copies at this time. With regard to any joint financial records, in particular, your spouse has an equal right (and need) to access these during your divorce. It is a good idea to have an extra copy anyway; and, if your attorney recommends that you keep certain records private, then you can do so on your attorney’s advice.
2. Should You Open a New Bank Account So that Your Spouse Cannot See What You are Spending?
Here’s the thing about opening a new bank account: Your spouse has the right to know how marital assets are being spent; so, even if you open a “private” account, your spouse may still be able to obtain access to your account statements through your divorce. Additionally, while any assets that qualify as your separate property are not on the table in your divorce, assets that have been commingled in a joint account may be reclassified as marital property. If you have concerns about your spouse knowing what you are purchasing, you should consult with an attorney before transferring funds into a new account.
3. How Can You Keep Information Pertaining to Your Divorce Private?
A challenge that many spouses encounter during the divorce process is how to keep information pertaining to their divorce private. While divorcing spouses are required to disclose certain information during the divorce process (i.e., their assets and income), you are also well within your rights to keep various pieces of information confidential. This includes anything discussed between you and your attorney.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us all to spend more time at home, and this creates additional challenges for maintaining privacy during a divorce. To the extent possible, you should schedule calls with your divorce attorney when your spouse is not around; and, if you need to have a call while your spouse is home, find a private place where he or she cannot listen in. Make sure your spouse does not know your email password, and make sure you do not leave copies of any files where your spouse can access them (i.e., in the “Downloads” folder on a shared computer).
4. Should You Continue to Follow Your Spouse on Social Media?
Social media presents various divorce-related challenges, as well. Should you continue to follow your spouse? This, ultimately, is up to you. You can certainly continue to follow your spouse if you want to, but you are under no obligation to read his or her status updates during your divorce.
5. Should You Block Your Spouse?
Should you block your spouse on social media? You can, but your spouse may still be able to gain access to your posts through the divorce process—or through friends or other family members. As a result, we recommend being very careful about what you post and perhaps taking a break from posting during your divorce. You can update your loved ones when the time is right, and by staying off of social media, you can avoid inadvertently posting something that could have a negative impact on your divorce.
6. Should You Change Your Passwords?
Yes, you should change your passwords—as long as they are your passwords. By this, we mean that you should change your passwords for things like email and social media accounts, but not joint bank accounts or investment portfolios. It is a good idea to change your phone, tablet, and computer passwords as well; although, if you have a “family” tablet or computer, then it will be best to simply avoid using the device for anything private or divorce-related.
7. Can You Begin Buying Things You Will Need After Your Divorce?
When going through a divorce, it is important to plan ahead, and there is a good chance that both you and your spouse will need to buy things in order to move on with your separate lives. However, as a general rule, both spouses need to be careful about buying things outside of the “ordinary course,” as this can potentially create issues during the divorce process. Additionally, if you buy items with marital assets (i.e., a shared checking account), the items you buy will also qualify as marital assets, and this means that it will be subject to equitable distribution in your divorce. We recommend speaking with your attorney and seeing if you can work out a solution that gives you (and your spouse) the opportunity to start getting ready for your respective post-divorce lives.
Schedule a Free Divorce Consultation in Gurnee, IL
If you are contemplating a divorce and would like more information about what you can expect during the process, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation with a Lake County, Illinois divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen. To request an appointment at a time that is convenient for you, call 847-623-4002 or contact us online today.