| Tips Before the Divorce
- Make an informed, careful decision to divorce. Regardless
of the marriage being dissolved, divorce creates deep
emotional feelings and trauma. Seek counseling if possible
to help you make the decision and to help you through
the process. Seek an attorney's advice as to whether it
is more advantageous for you or your spouse to file a
- Know your reactions to the divorce and how your reactions
and feelings may affect your case. Denying the possibility
of divorce and, therefore, giving the other spouse everything
while hoping it "goes away"; despair leading
to a desire to get the whole thing over with; or other
such reactions can have a long term and/or permanent effect
on your emotional, financial and legal rights. The right
attorney and counselor can help you work through these
feelings and assist you in making proper decisions regarding
divorce despite these feelings.
- Understand and help children deal with the process.
Children going through the process of divorce experience
all the emotions you are experiencing plus additional
emotions and concerns. Divorce for children creates feelings
of self doubt, worthlessness and fear of the unknown.
It is crucial to make children understand that they are
not the cause of the divorce. Divorcing parents will usually
have a continuing relationship with each other at least
until the youngest child reaches the age of majority,
if not longer. Although the legal and emotional ties between
the couple are being severed, they remain parents. Just
as divorcing parents can benefit from counseling and/or
therapy to help themselves through their divorce, they
also benefit from counseling and/or therapy to help them
understand the childrens emotional needs during divorce.
Many times children need counseling to deal with the grieving
for their loss, their fears, possible anger and/or guilt
and concerns. Attached is a bibliography of books that
may be beneficial for assisting children of all ages through
the divorce process.
- Find an attorney that you feel comfortable with as representing
your needs, desires and approach. Although technically
individuals can represent themselves in a divorce, it
is a complex and, therefore, dangerous thing for most.
The system is not really set up for non-lawyers and is
full of legal pitfalls for the unwary. Many of the decisions
made during the divorce process are irreversible at a
later date. It is important to find an attorney who you
trust, feel comfortable with and who understands what
your desires are during the divorce process.
- Ask questions - You have the right to ask about fee
arrangements, philosophy, background, etc. You have the
right to get a copy of your fee agreement in writing specifying
the fee arrangement. You have the right to have your phone
calls and questions answered. You have the right to fire
your attorney if you are unhappy with them although payment
for their services already provided will be required.
You have the right to know the progress of your case.
You have the right to set the "tone" of your
- Do financial planning before filing for divorce.
| Financial Planning Recommendations
- Review all mail which comes into your house and make
a list of the sender and the return address. It is important
to obtain the addresses of brokerage houses, insurance
companies, credit card issuers, banks, etc.
- Remain "in touch" with the personal finances
of the marriage. Review all monthly bank statements and
brokerage statements and try to make copies. Give copies
of all necessary documents to your attorney to hold for
- Review all tax returns and seek complete explanations
as to any item which may be questioned before signing.
Make copies of the tax returns (including any and all
- Inventory and periodically review the contents of your
safe deposit box. List the contents (including cash and
jewelry), and make sure the safe deposit box is in joint
- Familiarize yourself with your husband's business. When
tax returns are being prepared, go with your husband to
the accountant so that you don't get secondhand (filtered)
- Do not make major purchases (such as a boat or expensive
car) or allow your husband to make major purchases for
himself or on your behalf. Keep the assets of your marriage
liquid and unencumbered. Don't purchase that summer home
or Mercedes with the thought (hope) that it will patch
up the differences between you and your husband. Patch
up the marriage first, then make purchases later.
- Do not transfer, assign, alienate, or make a gift (even
to the children) of any marital asset. Maintain all assets
in joint names (or your name alone, if possible).
- If your husband has a pension plan with his employer,
determine when his pension "vests". It may be
important to be married at the time the pension vests
to insure that you will be entitled to your fair share
of that asset under Michigan law. Obtain copies of the
pension and/or profit sharing plan and any yearly statement.
- Obtain copies of any will or trust documents. Go with
your husband to his attorney and directly participate
in any estate planning.
- Review and make copies of all loan documents, mortgage
applications and financial statements.
- Do not sign any documents or financial instruments in
blank. Know what you are signing, keep copies, and don't'
rely on your husband to fill in the blanks later.
- Have a complete medical and dental checkup. Familiarize
yourself with your husband's medical and dental plans.
Make certain that you have needed medical and dental treatment
prior to separation and that you are covered with medical
insurance in the event of separation.
- For the purposes of receiving any Social Security benefits
to which you may be entitled when your husband retires,
make certain that you are married for at least ten years.
Do not separate prior to this time (or at least avoid
being divorced prior to this time) if at all possible.
- Learn where you can cut costs in the event of a separation
because of the limitation of income which you may subsequently
- Open up your own safe deposit box at another bank (other
than where your husband and you may have an existing box)
to store any important papers and valuables. You may also
wish to open up a post office box to receive personal
letters from your attorney or others.
- Separation causes immediate economic hardship. Therefore,
put away as much cash as you can. You will need to retain
an attorney and will also have particular personal needs
which you husband may not want to pay for. Therefore,
from the weekly monies which you receive from you husband
to buy groceries, allowance, or from your job, "hide"
as much as you can. Keeping money in travelers checks
may be a viable alternative to cash.
- Make sure your automobile is in good working condition
and that it is titled in your name or jointly (not in
your husband's name alone). You will need to be mobile
in order to see your attorney, go to the supermarket,
go to work or out with the children.
- Review and make copies of any and all insurance policies
relating to the marital residence, furnishings or other
assets; including any riders for jewelry, silverware,
or other valuables. Make copies of any appraisals which
may be available.
- Don't create any additional indebtedness and don't allow
your husband to do so either.
- Develop you own lines of credit. Obtain, in your own
name, gasoline credit cards, credit cards from larger
department stores and national credit cards (VISA, Mastercard,
American Express, etc.).
- Keep all inheritances separate from your spouse. If
an inheritance is received, don't place it in joint names.
- Make certain that all taxes owed to the Federal government
and any other taxing authorities have been paid.
- If your spouse is about to make a job change or be elevated
to another position, don't leave! Consider the fact that
your spouse may have an enhanced earning capacity which
could result in greater support for you (and the children)
- Don't quit work if you are working. It is important
to have a sense of financial independence as well as the
emotional security of having a place to go to every day.
- Don't move out of the marital residence until you talk
to your attorney (unless you are in danger) !
| Financial Planning Recommendations
for the Husband
- Keep marital assets liquid and avoid encumbering marital
property or making large purchases.
- Become familiar with all of the expenses associated
with maintaining the marital residence and the related
needs of your wife and children. You must know where you
can trim the excess out of personal and household expenses
since you may have to maintain a separate residence for
yourself along with the marital residence.
- Have all important mail sent to your place of business
or a friend.
- Keep all assets in your name alone rather that in joint
names in order to give you more complete control over
their disposition. Do no assist your wife in helping her
establish credit in her own name in order to avoid liability
for those expenses incurred by her and for her sole benefit
prior to the divorce.
- Determine when your pension vests and attempt to terminate
the marriage prior to the vesting.
- Postpone bonuses and defer income until after the divorce
in order to reduce your potential liability for alimony
- Cut back on your life-style and begin cutting expenses.
- Do not separate or file for divorce until after you
have secured your wife's signature on your joint income
tax returns. Otherwise, your wife may attempt to hold
her signature "hostage" for the payment of cash
or other benefit with the inducement that you will save
taxes by filing a joint return.
| Tips During the Divorce
- The process of divorce can, at times, appear excruciatingly
slow. The timing of a divorce case varies depending on
the court, judge and the specifics of the case. Your attorney
can assist you in estimating the length of the proceedings
and each step of same.
- Make sure you read and understand all the legal papers
filed by your attorney to make sure that they are not
only accurate but also say what you want to say.
- Make sure your settlement and the Judgment of Divorce
covers or at lease considers alimony, if appropriate,
child support, medical expenses and health insurance for
any children, life insurance, property division, pension
and retirement benefits, insurance to cover payment of
support, payment of marital debts, tax returns (payment
and reimbursement), claims of exemptions on IRS returns,
attorney fees and COBRA benefits.
- Advise your attorney of any abuse/fears. If you are
a victim of domestic violence, physical and/or mental,
mistreatment by your spouse, be sure to tell your attorney
so court protection can be achieved. Do not be embarrassed
- it is not your fault. Michigan law also provides for
the prosecution and arrest of an abuser. If you are assaulted,
(put in fear of physical injury), battered (experienced
unwanted touching), explore this with your attorney and
follow through with the filing of the criminal charges.
There are also domestic violence agencies which can assist.
If your attorney knows of the abuse, he/she can get a
court order called an Injunction which stops or prohibits
an abusive person (i.e. spouse) from assaulting, beating,
molesting or wounding you and sometimes even prohibits
entry upon your land, residence or place of employment.
| Tips After the Divorce
- Check periodically to make sure any coverage from your
ex-spouse's employer (i.e. COBRA) is still in effect.
Seriously consider disability and life insurance.
Make sure your beneficiary designations on everything
from life insurance to retirement benefits is correct.
Make sure any premiums your ex-spouse is to pay under
the Judgment of Divorce are being paid.
Get a good accountant/tax adviser if taxes and financial
matters are something you did not previously handle.
Find a financial advisor to help make decisions regarding
any securities, stocks or other investments you were
awarded in the divorce.
Have your previous will reviewed by an attorney or
see an attorney about drafting one if you do not have
Make sure your child support is being paid through
your Friend of the Court account and is current.
- If you are the custodial parent, make sure that there
is an automatic income withholding order (wage garnishment),
If the payor of child support is falling behind, consider,
with an attorney, remedies such as seizing tax refunds,
liens on property, notification to credit bureaus and
finally, contempt of court which could cause a fine,
jail or possibly both sanctions.
Document any denied visitation and see an attorney
- do not deny visitation for failure to pay child support.
Do not deprive the children of their right to see,
love and respect both parents.