Law Office of David L. Scott

What to Do Before Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Protect yourself by getting things in order prior to talking about divorce with your partner

In addition to being emotionally draining, divorce can put your assets and financial situation at risk. Make sure you are protecting yourself by taking care of certain things prior to telling your spouse that you want a divorce. Once your spouse knows about this, things can get complicated quickly. Ensure that your rights are covered as much as possible prior to having this conversation.

I’m considering divorce. What should I do before I tell my spouse?

If you are thinking that a divorce may be what is best for you and your family, it would be good for you to first consult with an experienced family law attorney. A legal professional with specialized knowledge of the divorce process can let you know what the whole process looks like. He or she can also make you aware of your rights and responsibilities in the divorce process as well as what common mistakes to avoid.

This is a time to proceed with caution. Actions you take prior to initiating divorce proceedings can work in your favor or against you later on. Be careful about what you say to your spouse. If you are having frank discussions about the problems in your marriage, this may come back later as admissible evidence in court to show that you were at fault for the divorce. Any extramarital affairs or financial indiscretions should be kept to yourself. A finding of fault in a divorce action can put you at a disadvantage for things like:

Additionally, unless you or your kids are at risk of physical abuse, stay in the family home. Obviously, safety is the number one concern, but if you and your children are safe, do not move out just yet. This is especially true if you would move out and leave your children there. You will be placing yourself at a serious disadvantage for things such as alimony, child support, and child custody. If you move out and the kids are fine at home without you, a judge may not want to disrupt the situation if it is already working out.

To protect yourself financially and make sure nothing happens before divorce like your spouse trying to hide assets, get copies of all important financial documents. This includes documents relating to marital debt, retirement plans, tax records, bank accounts, etc. Now is also a good time to run your own credit report and work on improving your credit score.

It is also important to note that Tennessee has an automatic mandatory injunction that is put in place as soon as your spouse is served with notice of the dissolution of marriage action. The injunction puts stringent restrictions on what you or your spouse can do with marital property while the divorce proceeding is pending. Get control of any assets you need to access prior to this time. Once the divorce action is instituted, you will most likely have to go through the court system to access any personal property or assets that were not in your possession at the start of the divorce.

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