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If you are searching for informative and helpful information regarding divorce and family law issues in Alabama, you've come to the right place. Mobile and Baldwin County attorney Jim Jeffries provides monthly posting and updates, including informative articles and helpful reviews on current divorce-related news events. Our firm has more than two decades experience in our practice areas and is dedicated to providing excellent service and skilled representation for each of our clients. We also seek to further the education of each of our clients regarding divorce matters, so check back regularly for more information on Alabama Family Law! 

Divorce Preparation: Step 8 – Address the Credit Accounts

We pick up with Step 8 in our series on practical steps to take when a divorce is imminent. Step 8 is Assess how to handle the credit accounts.

If a divorce is imminent you do not want to be liable on any accounts on which your spouse has charging privileges. It is not unheard of for an angry spouse, upon learning of a divorce, to go on a shopping spree. Likewise, some lawyers may advise their clients to take out cash advances on joint cards to provide a cushion while the divorce is pending or to charge a large amount in lawyer’s fees on to joint cards.
You will want to consider canceling such joint accounts or at least reducing the spending limits. If they are an authorized user on charge cards in your name, see what steps the credit card companies require to remove them as an authorized user.

Also consider home equity lines of credit. You may need to consider whether you should close it or restrict access pending the resolution of the divorce.

Whatever you do, do not neglect thinking seriously about how to handle this issue, and discuss it with your lawyer before making a final decision.

Divorce Preparation: Step 9 – Avoid additional debt or major purchases

We continue our series on practical steps to take when you are about to face divorce. We are now to step 9 which is simple, but important:

Avoid additional debt or major purchases.

This suggestion goes hand in hand with assessing how to handle the credit accounts, but deserves its own separate mention. If a divorce is going to happen, you want to be conservative with the finances. It is not time to be putting in a pool, buying a new car, or buying new furniture on credit. You want to simplify the financial situation not make it more complex.

When the divorce occurs, one of the primary things that has to happen is for the divorce court to allocate who will be responsible for what debts. Generally speaking, the less complex the debt situation, the easier task that will be.

I should note again, all of this is general information. Your own specific situation may cause you to need to vary from it. For example, there are times when you may have to get an automobile and it would be better to do it before the divorce because you won’t have sufficient credit on your own after the divorce. So, obviously you will want to get specific advice from your own lawyer – which is why Step 1 was find a wise guide (an experienced, competent divorce law specialist)!

Divorce Preparation: Step 10 – Stay Put (until further notice)

We are nearing the end of our series on practical steps to take when you are facing an imminent divorce. We have reached Step 10 – Stay Put (until further notice).

One of the most common questions I am asked by my clients is whether they can move out of the house. In most cases my answer to them is to stay put. It is not the answer most of my clients want.

I know that things are stressful. I know that they will likely get worse before they get better. Unfortunately, there are several reasons to avoid leaving. The most important ones are the following:

1. It could jeopardize your custody claim. If you end up in a custody dispute, then if you leave the house and the children remain there with your spouse you will almost guarantee that you will not receive primary custody. If the case becomes contested, it could drag out for many months (even a year or two). If your spouse has had primary physical custody that entire time and you’ve had alternate weekend visitation, then unless your spouse has made major mistakes in the interim, they will likely maintain primary custody.

2. It could affect your property interests. You’ve moved out. Your spouse pays the mortgage the entire time the case is pending. Some judges may factor that in when making the property division.

3. You will lose leverage in the negotiations. This is big. You want the divorce. Your spouse doesn’t. You decide you have to get out of the house. You move to an apartment and are paying your rent and the home mortgage. Now under the Pre-trial Status Quo Order you may be required to keep paying it as long as the case is pending. You have just given your spouse a major incentive to drag out the litigation. I see it happen all the time. Eventually you decide to settle for much worse terms because you can’t keep paying for two households. Do not make this mistake.

Moving out of the house can have dramatic effects on the case. Do not do it without discussing it with your lawyer and giving it a great deal of thought. You should know, also, that some judges will consider a motion for temporary possession of the residence pending the trial. This varies dramatically from county to county (and sometimes even from judge to judge) so you will want to discuss it with your lawyer.

It goes without saying that if domestic violence is an issue, then all of this is moot. You will need to take whatever steps you must to protect yourself. Just make sure you let your lawyer know what is going on. In the case of domestic violence, your lawyer may actually be able to have your spouse removed from the house.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:23

Divorce Preparation: Step 11 – Keep a diary

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Divorce Preparation: Step 11 – Keep a diary

This post continues are series on practical steps to take when a divorce is imminent. We are now on Step 11: Keep a diary/calendar.

It is important to documents all of the major events that occur until the divorce is final. Your lawyer will likely want your help in reconstructing a chronology (a list in order by date) of the major events that led to the filing of the divorce. Additionally, you should begin keeping careful records of new events and incidents as they occur. Simply note the date, what happened and any witnesses that may have observed it. In the unfortunate event that your case drags on, events will begin running together and your memory may fail you. Don’t rely on it.

Instead, keep an ongoing diary. Then provide this to your lawyer periodically so he is aware of any significant facts in your case.

I should note that you really should discuss this recommendation with your lawyer before implementing it. Some lawyers may not want you to have an ongoing record like this because it could be obtained by the other lawyer during the discovery phase of the trial (something that could have a negative effect on your case). Or, they may want you to take certain steps to attempt to protect it from begin discoverable by the opposing lawyer. These are technical legal issues beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say that you need to talk this over with your lawyer first.

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