Below are some things you may want to do before you act on any thoughts you have about divorce. It’s important to be certain that you have done the things you need to do to feel good about your decisions. Here are the top five things to do:
1. Talk to a Marriage Counselor or other professional who may be able to help you save your marriage. Even if you don’t think there’s hope for the marriage, “divorce counseling” can help you discover what went wrong, how to cope, and how to pick up the pieces and go on. Don’t wait for your spouse to participate. If you don’t know how to find a qualified counselor, our firm will be glad to recommend one. Your employment, social or religious contacts might also provide leads.
2. Talk to an attorney before you do anything. Even if you don’t end up hiring an attorney to handle your separation or divorce, you would be well advised to get as much information as you can before you even discuss divorce with your spouse. There’s a lot to know about divorce in Michigan…our laws are complex and even the simplest situation can be very confusing to families already in distress. Actions you take now may very well affect the outcome of your divorce and you need to understand your options ahead of time…not some time down the road when it may be too late to alter the outcome.
3. Do not move out of the marital home without talking to an attorney first. Leaving the house without a good reason may have serious implications. If you leave the house, you may be unable to return until after a court divides the property. This process could take a long time. The best advice is to stay in the house until after you talk with any attorney about your options, unless of course your spouse is violent or has been abusive, then you should do whatever is necessary to protect you and your children, including going somewhere safe.
4. If you have been involved in any extramarital affairs, talk to a lawyer before you discuss this with your spouse or anyone else. In this case, honesty may not be the best policy.
5. Take concrete steps to safeguard your assets before you and your spouse begin discussing divorce. One of these steps is to take possession of certain assets during separation, especially those assets you wish to be using, such as furniture and vehicles, and those assets that might be liquidated by your spouse, including bank accounts or credit cards. An attorney can give you information on how to protect your marital property so that your spouse does not liquate it.
Other protective measures you might consider in your divorce planning include: (1) protecting your own credit rating by freezing or closing joint cards and by blocking your spouse’s access to other joint credit, such as a home equity loan; (2) closing joint bank accounts and opening accounts in your own, individual name; (3) putting some money aside in a separate account in case it is needed later.
While this list will help you get started on the right track, it is by no means a complete list of all the things you need to do and know if you are considering a divorce. For more information about the rights and duties of separating and divorcing husbands and wives under Michigan law, visit Ambrose Law Group or email me at: David Lutz at (248) 624-5500