It is never an easy decision when deciding to separate from your spouse.
In North Carolina, you are considered legally separated when one party moves out of the marital residence; and, there is nothing to file to become legally separated. This date, called your date of separation, becomes an important date during your divorce, along with the date you were married. Make a note of this date.
Divorce is one of the most emotional and difficult experiences one can go through. When marrying your partner, you never imagine the day when you are dealing with the details of the dissolution of your marriage. The emotion behind a couple’s separation can often lead to behavior that is costly in terms of time, money and the effect on your children. If you are thinking about separating from your spouse, these Do’s and Don’ts can help you during the process.
- Consult an attorney – If you are the spouse planning to ask for a divorce, the best thing you can do for yourself is consult with a family law attorney before having that conversation with your spouse. Every decision you make during this time can potentially have legal ramifications. Your attorney will help you get things in order so that you can set yourself up as best as possible during this transition. Sometimes life comes at you fast and your spouse lets you know they want to end the marriage. In this case, speaking with an attorney should be at the top of your To-Do list.
- Know your family’s finances – Knowing every detail of your family’s finances is crucial information in the separation process. From what your mortgage payment is each month to what you spend on dry cleaning, make sure every dollar you spend is accounted for. You also need to know the financial institutions which holds any account, whether individually or jointly. Gathering the documents related to your finances, and bringing them with you to your consultation, can save you time and money.
- Save texts, emails and voicemails – If your spouse communicates something to you that is relevant to your divorce, make sure it is documented and saved. Printing these out and keeping them somewhere safe can help you share the information with your attorney, if and when the time comes.
- Be honest with your children -Children deserve to know the truth about why their parents are divorcing. Just like you, this is one of the most difficult things that can happen in their lives. Whether your child is 5 or 15, there are age appropriate ways to share with your children why life as they know it is changing. However, they do not need to know unnecessary negative details, including hearing you bash your spouse. If you are having trouble finding out how to let your children know about your divorce, your attorney or therapist can help you navigate that conversation.
- Get a therapist – It’s healthy to vent, and naturally, you will vent to your family and friends during this challenging time, but sometimes people don’t want to feel they are caught in the middle. A therapist will teach you tools so that you can keep your emotional health in check. Separation is a hard time all around, keeping yourself mentally healthy will serve you well.
- Hire a private investigator – If you suspect your spouse is cheating, hire a P.I. to help you obtain evidence before you separate. Your attorney will be able to refer you to one with whom they have an established relationship.
- Make promises to your spouse – One of the biggest mistakes people can make when they separate is to agree to certain things as it relates to your children, finances and other assets without talking to an attorney first. Under no circumstance promise to pay your spouse a certain amount after you separate. Or if you are the dependent spouse, do not agree to be paid a certain amount for your support. Your attorney will let you know your legal rights and what to expect in regards to these important issues.
- Lose your temper – Separation and divorce bring about a wide range of emotions. Anger is one of them. While it might feel good in the moment to lash out at your spouse, please remember everything you do or say can eventually be seen by a Judge if your divorce involves litigation. It is best to keep communication free of emotion, especially if you are the spouse asking for a divorce and ready to move on with your life.
- Rush into dating – While it might feel good to go out on a date after separating, remember there will be time for dating. Your main focus during this time should be yourself and your children during this difficult transition. Your attorney can speak to you about when an appropriate time is to begin dating after you’ve separated.
- Solicit legal advice from anyone not an attorney – It seems as though most everyone belongs to a Facebook group. Many people use these groups for support, especially if you are a mom. While it is ok to ask friends and family and perhaps your Facebook friends for a referral for an attorney, be careful when the advice crosses into people advising you what to do or what they think you are entitled to. Just because your friend’s divorce settled a certain way, does not mean yours will do the same. Only your attorney can advise you of your legal rights and what you should expect.
- Put your children in the middle – Children should never be treated as pawns or weapons in your divorce. It’s hard enough for them to adjust to their new lives between two homes, the last thing they need is to feel as though they are caught in the middle of their parents’ problems or that they are the reason their parents are separating. Children should not be used as messengers. If you need to communicate something to your spouse, do so yourself. Remember, just as much as your children love you, they love your spouse. It’s healthy for them if you allow them to freely love and speak of your spouse when they are with you. Withholding visitation from your spouse should never be used for punitive purposes. If you have a concern about your child’s safety or wellbeing while they are with your spouse, your attorney can advise you what to do to ensure that your children are safe.
- Overshare on social media – We live in the day where we share everything. While social media can be a great tool to communicate, your cousin’s best friend that you met one time a couple of years ago, doesn’t need to know what you really think of your spouse. What you put on the internet can last forever. If you think you want to share a post about the details of the falling out of your marriage, don’t!
Separation is a time that can leave even the most prepared person wondering what they are going to do next. Having a good attorney can ensure you don’t make a mistake along the way. The attorneys at Rech Law, P.C. will be happy to discuss your divorce with you.