Are you contemplating divorce? If so, here are sixteen steps you should take in preparation for that eventuality:

1. Go to marital or personal counseling to make sure this is really what you want.

2. If you are the lower earner in the couple, copy everything in the home with a dollar sign and store your copies at a friend’s or relative’s house, safety deposit box, or your office:

  1. Retirement/pension/IRA statements.
  2. Bank statements including checking/savings/CD, life insurance policy declarations pages including car/life/health/homeowners/flood.
  3. Stock options, thrift statements.
  4. All documents for real estate including Acts of Sale, mortgage statements, leases.
  5. All documents for cars including leases, titles, lien statements.
  6. All brokerage statements.
  7. Paycheck stubs.
  8. Tax returns, both personal and business, and all schedules.
  9. Credit card statements.
  10. School loan statements for either spouse or your children.
  11. Private school tuition fee schedules & loan statements.
  12. Summer camp, tutoring, daycare, before and aftercare fee schedules, and proof of payment.

3. If you are the higher earner in the couple, remove the above documents from your home.

4. Open a Post Office Box and send a change of address form to all of the following or forward all of the following to a friend’s or relative’s home or your office, including:

  1. Above documents.
  2. Paycheck stubs.

5. Consult with an attorney to determine if you should consider mediation or litigation. Even if you decide on mediation, you should have an attorney review any mediated agreements before signing, so find an attorney you like, now.

6. Hire a private investigator, if you suspect infidelity or aberrant behavior.

7. Remember that anything you post on Facebook or Instagram could end up being used against you to prove adultery or unfit parenting.

8. Open a storage unit and remove all of the following, or move to a friend’s or relatives home any community, or separate property to which you believe you are entitled that is of significant sentimental or monetary value including guns, jewelry, art, antiques, stamp collections, coin collections, Christmas ornaments, children’s art.

9. Remember that until one of you files for divorce, it’s adultery that can determine whether you pay or receive spousal support/alimony.

10. If you have been served, immediately consult with an attorney. You have only 15 days for your attorney to file an Answer to their Petition.

11. If you are the lower earner, start a nest egg in your name only at a bank at which you have never banked before. Open as much credit as possible using your spouse’s income to obtain that credit.

12. If you are the higher earner, send a fax or letter by certified mail to all known credit card accounts that are “in contemplation of divorce” you ask that all present accounts be closed and a new account opened in your name only. Also that you will not be responsible for any future changes to the old account or any new accounts opened by your spouse.

13. If you are on your spouse’s health insurance, get a quote from your employer or an independent insurer in writing,

14. This is not the time to play true confessions or tell everything you know. Keep a poker face.

15. Print any emails or texts which are damaging to your spouse.

We have 27 years of family law mediation, litigation, and appellate experience in twelve parishes.


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