Article by Aleksandra Kocelko, Esq.
The initial days and weeks following a separation are emotional and challenging. The choices made during this time can drastically affect the course of your divorce. Here are some important factors to consider:
- Money – Determine how household bills and expenses will be paid. For example, will you share the costs? Deposit funds into a joint account? Discussing in advance can prevent missed payments, late fees, overdraft charges, etc. Planning the next few weeks or months will help to clarify the expectations of both parties.
- Moving – Many times, a potential client’s first questions are “When can I move out” or, “Should I move out?” The answer depends on the financial circumstances of the parties, but can also be impacted by custody determinations. Many parents don’t want to vacate the home without a custody plan in place. Leaving may trigger a duty of support to the other spouse. Keep in mind that if the house is a marital asset, generally, leaving does not impact your ownership rights to the property. It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities before you make this move.
- Custody – Developing an interim custody arrangement before you physically separate residences can help eliminate tension and reduce stress for the children. Take the time to discuss the custody schedule, who will have the children which days, transportation, upcoming holidays, etc. Without a plan in place for custody, you may end up having to wait for the court to issue an interim order, which can take weeks or longer.
- Benefits – Generally, once a divorce is pending, parties have to maintain beneficiary designations and other benefits like medical and life insurance. This rule provides continuity and protection during the divorce process, but being aware that you may be responsible for continuing to pay premiums, provide coverage, and maintain beneficiaries until a divorce decree is entered, will allow for better planning and budgeting.
- Social Media – Be aware that anything you post on social media can be used against you in your court case. These posts could be considered evidence just like a text message or e-mail. It is best to keep your separation off the internet. For example, trash-talking the other parent, sharing financial information, discussing job prospects, etc. can impact your divorce, custody, and support cases.