So, You Think A Divorce May Be In Your Future?
Published to: 000114, 000116, A Small Town Lawyer's Perspective, Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, West Virginia Lawyer - Tips and Techniques
on July 7, 2010 9:06 pm
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Sadly, my advice is not sought on “How to be a good husband/wife.” That’s why I can throw that advice into my blog for free!
But, my advice is very sound for people who have no choice but to participate in a divorce. This may because he/she is a victim of abuse or serious neglect. It may be because your spouse has found someone else. Or, it may be because your spouse or you love booze or a pill bottle, or handmade cigarette, or syringe, or porn site, better than they love their partner.
Whatever the problem is, there are things you can do ahead of time to protect yourself.
Here are a few.
1. SPEAK WITH, BETTER YET, HIRE AS A CONSULTANT A VERY GOOD LAWYER. More often lately, I have been suggesting, without much success, that a person “on the fence” regarding a divorce, hire a confidential attorney consultant, to put together a “Pearl Harbor Plan”. I am offering to accept such a position for a flat fee of $1000.
2. If you simply cannot afford # 1, you certainly should know what you own and what you owe! You should make an inventory, when your spouse is away, and photograph your personal belongings and real estate. But, don’t then leave your notes and photos lying around. And don’t think you can leave them in the glove box, the treasure trove for nosy spouses, second only to your MySpace and FaceBook, for valuable divorce evidence.
3. If you can, come up with realistic estimates of the value of these used things. You may be surprised at how much is at stake, and you may be disappointed that things disappear or are taken elsewhere before you get to catalogue them.
4. You need to know what you (plural; you and he/she) owe! That means you need to know the current balance on all credit cards, all medical bills and all loans from family.
5. You need to root out those copies of reports from your and your spouse’s employer of the 401k balance, savings accounts statements, and other records of any accumulated assets.
6. Remember that life insurance may be “only term” with $0 value until your death, BUT life insurance may, as “whole life”, have a “present value” very similar to a savings account or cd (certificate of deposit).
7. If divorce is imminent, do not allow yourself to be victimized by a spouse who empties or withdraws all your savings. Withdraw at least your half, plus perhaps enough for your attorney’s retainer and advance for costs, and deposit it into an account in your own name. You will have to disclose this account later anyway, but I still wouldn’t deposit it in the bank where my spouse’s sister is the assistant manager. Where you fear you will not get support from your spouse, you may want to withdraw most of the remaining balance.
8. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER bait or provoke your spouse into an altercation thinking you can then file a domestic violence petition. You have to be alive to file such a petition, and you sure do not want to file from your hospital bed. BUT, if there is an incident that raises welt, creates a bruise or laceration, or causes your neighbors to call the police for your protection, consider the following:
a. If this happened around your children, failure to report it or to seek a protective order may be child abuse or neglect that results in your losing your children, temporarily or permanently.
b. If such an order is properly entered, initially or after a trial, it can give you a tremendous edge in custody and visitation issues. Remember, I said “properly” issued. I am not saying to file based on something frivolous. Not only is it just not right, but if the Court realizes you are using it, your efforts could backfire.
c. If it happens, you have a mark on your body or other evidence, and you do not go to the emergency room and file for a protective order, NO ONE WILL BELIEVE YOU LATER WHEN YOU CLAIM IT HAPPENED! Abuse victims have a responsibility to themselves and their children to act on the abuse and seek protection from the Courts.
d. One distinction. If you file for a protective order claiming a battery or assault, the police may charge your spouse, and convict, even without your willing assistance. Such a conviction takes away that person’s right to own or possess a firearm FOR LIFE. The protective order itself causes the loss of gun rights only while it is in effect, BUT your or your spouse’s name can go into the Federal Gun Control Database for a long, long time. Think Moslem terrorists, hiding in this country, and the way they treat their women, to understand why the Federal Authorities carefully peruse that database.
9. Plan where are you going to stay. Do you have a plan to get household goods out of the house, and will you and the children need to hide or find temporary housing?
10. Assuming it takes several weeks for a support (alimony and/or child support) order, how are you going to handle your basic needs and keep the family finances in order. I have a lot of answers to these questions, but you need to hire me and give me the facts I need to work with.
That’s enough for now. I hope you do not need a divorce lawyer, but if you do, remember the tips above and CALL ME!
J. Burton Hunter III, Esq.
One West Main St.
Buckhannon, WV 26201
Fax 304 472-0641
Ph. 304 472-7477
Home 304 472-5644
This post was written by Burton Hunter