Divorce is never an easy thing to go through. Your emotions are all over the place and depending on the situation, there can be some very serious financial issues involved which makes the whole process a lot scarier for most. Like most tough situations in life, if you are not careful with your emotions, you can easily allow them to dictate your decision-making rather than allowing your common sense to prevail. If you are facing a South Carolina divorce in the near future, here are some fundamental steps you should take to properly prepare yourself for your case.
Money Makes the World Go Round
Step 1: Locate and identify your financial details. This is often the most daunting task you'll have, but it must be done. Begin to gather documentation on any financial statements, retirement accounts, tax returns, and any other relevant financial information so that you can present this information to your attorney, preferably within the first couple of meetings you have with him. Since South Carolina divides marital assets based on their value at the time of filing, gathering all of this information prior to filing a case will help paint an accurate picture of which assets and debts are part of the marital estate at the time the case is filed. This will do two things: (1) it will save a lot of time, effort, and money, since your attorney won't have to try to trace back to past valuations of property many months after the case has started and (2) it will give your attorney all the information he needs in the beginning to craft a proper strategy for your case going forward, to help ensure your rights are protected.
Step 2: Set some money aside. While you cannot empty your bank accounts (read this blog post to find out more), leaving your spouse with nothing, it is smart to set some money aside in a separate checking account or in a safety deposit box, in order to have some liquid money when divorce is on the horizon. In many divorce cases, once one party has filed for divorce, the other party will typically try to cut off your access to any of the marital finances. If that happens in your case, you want to have some money available to deal with the initial costs of a divorce, such as paying an attorney's retainer and possibly hiring a private investigator to gather the evidence needed to file your divorce case.
Keep a Journal but Think Twice About Social Media
Step 3: Start Keeping a Journal. This step is most important when issues of custody and support issues are at stake. If you write in your journal about the level of involvement of both parents in your children's lives, this will help aid the court in determining how to rule on the issue of custody. This is not a "Dear Diary" type of journal, but rather a book where you can document the events of day-to-day life so that your recollection of those events will be far more accurate when it comes time to tell them to the Court. The types of things you will want to journal about are numerous, but some key topics will include: your spouse's behavior during visits; events your spouse missed that involved the children; emails and text messages which demonstrate poor co-parenting or harassment from your spouse; and the level of involvement you have in the children's lives - do you volunteer as a class parent at their school; are you the only parent who takes the child to medical appointments or takes time off work when they are sick; are you solely responsible for all of the children's extracurricular activities, etc. You can learn more about keeping a "Custody Journal" by clicking here.
Step 4: Social Media is NOT Your Friend. Avoid it, if at all possible. The emotions which come with filing for divorce, coupled with the anger you may feel towards your spouse, creates a situation where it will be very tempting to post something on social media venting your frustration with your marriage; your spouse; your children; or just life in general. Typically, these outbursts on social media only cause harm to your case because social media information is fully "discoverable", i.e., the other side can subpoena your social media accounts to see what you've been posting. Any efforts to delete or destroy this information, once it's been posted is also illegal. Every post can and may be used against you in the light most unfavorable to you. Even a simple post of you enjoying a glass of wine at your best friend's 40th birthday party might be taken out of context to imply to the Court that you have a drinking problem, which could negatively impact a custody case. In the end, it is wise to think long and hard before you post anything on social media when you think a divorce is in your future.
Divorce is hard and emotions run high during such an event. If you take the proper steps to prepare yourself before a case is filed, it can help to relieve some of the stress involved. The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 or click here to schedule an initial consultation.