You need to login in order to like this post: click here
To label divorce as ‘complicated’ — emotionally, legally, and financially — is a gross understatement. The divorce process can stumble even the most experienced attorney if he/she is unprepared. To help navigate the turbulent waters ahead, here is a list of things you should tell your divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
- Make sure you’re disclosing all assets. This includes any sort of benefit you might be receiving, and all accounts on which your name appears (even if you and your dad share an account from when you still lived at home fifteen years ago).
- Tell your lawyer right away if you were anything less than open and honest on your financial statement. While disclosing all assets is a legal requirement for all divorcing couples, it’s hard to resist the temptation to bend the truth a little to keep some assets to yourself, especially when you deserve them more than your ex-spouse. Let your attorney know ASAP if you attempted to undervalue certain marital property, report a diminished income, report inflated expenses, or exaggerate debts. Come clean before your case suffers! Let your divorce lawyer keep you on the right side of the law.
- Tell your lawyer if you suspect your ex-spouse will try to hide assets. You’d be surprised at some of the common tricks people use to prevent an ex-spouse from obtaining the fair settlement to which he/she is entitled. Your ex-spouse might be knowingly hiding money, bills, statements, or minor purchases. These strategies are deceptive, underhanded, and illegal. Share your fears with your attorney, especially if your ex-spouse has been shady about finances in the past. You could very well be on to something. As you were half of your marriage, you were able to identify spending habits and monitor day-to-day living expenses incurred by your spouse during the marriage. Don’t ignore your suspicion if things don’t add up. Keep in mind that your spouse swore that the contents of his/her financial document are true and correct to the best of his/her knowledge and belief. Your lawyer might need to remind him/her of the penalties of perjury.
- Notify your lawyer upfront if you are worried about how to pay for your divorce. Even if your spouse controls the finances, there are legal options available. Once the divorce is filed, the court can order your ex-spouse to provide certain financial support. You might be able to establish a budget or cap fee in the hourly billing model so that expenses do not exceed a set amount without your permission. If you are unsure about how you are going to pay for your attorney’s services, ask your attorney for guidance in figuring out the best way to finance your divorce.
- Tell your lawyer if you or your children have been victims of domestic violence. Family violence is a sensitive issue — even terrifying — but your lawyer must be made aware of the situation. Your attorney can help take the necessary steps to ensure your legal and physical protection. Not only will this significantly help your chances in contested matters like custody, but it will also notify your lawyer of the pressing need to take certain steps to keep you and your family safe. Under Massachusetts law, the Probate and Family Court has statutory authority to issue permanent protective orders in divorce proceedings and to incorporate them into final judgments of divorce. A restraining order can restrict a party in several ways, including communication with family members and possession of a firearm. Divorce can get heated as emotions run high, so it is imperative that you notify your lawyer if your spouse has been violent in the past. Additionally, filing for divorce in Massachusetts results in an automatic restraining order that applies to both parties upon the filing of the complaint and service of the summons. The restraining order remains in effect during the pendency of the action, unless it is modified by agreement of the parties or the court.
- Tell your lawyer if you or your spouse was unfaithful during the marriage. You might feel embarrassed, betrayed, or remorseful, but chances are high that this will come up in the divorce. Your attorney should know about any infidelity to properly prepare and strategize your case. If you suspect or know that your spouse was having an affair, it is possible that he/she spent marital assets in doing so. Your attorney can help find information on how much money was spent, which you can claim as marital assets that should have been equitably divided. Keep your lawyer informed.