It’s no secret that divorce can be stressful. For women in Columbus, Ohio, the process becomes even more difficult when they fear their spouse will take advantage of them. But you don’t have to passively sit back as events unfold. Instead, a divorce attorney for women who practices in and around Westerville, Ohio can help protect your rights and prepare you for the next chapter of life.
Advice from a Divorce Attorney for Women in Columbus, Ohio: How Can a Woman Protect Herself in a Divorce?
The first step is to note your date of separation. This impacts when you may be able to file for divorce and whether property is considered separate or marital. The date of separation may also identify when a spouse becomes responsible for paying spousal support and/or child support. You should therefore record this date and ensure you can substantiate it, if necessary.
As long as we’re talking about spousal support, now is a good time to mention you shouldn’t count on it. A judge in Ohio can order either temporary support, which lasts for the duration of the divorce, or wait and simply enter a final order of support. But in many cases, judges believe both spouses are capable of supporting themselves. We recommend that women in Columbus, Ohio, plan accordingly to ensure they can live well even after a divorce.
Put Together a Budget
What does “plan accordingly” mean? It starts with constructing a budget that can help manage your finances. Your household income will likely shrink after a divorce, but you won’t know the real impacts until you see numbers on paper. Try to keep your emotions out of this process. For instance, you might feel emotionally attached to your home, but you need to realistically assess if you can afford to stay there.
Your budget should serve two key purposes: to project both your monthly income and monthly expenses. Remember to include all future expenses, such as health insurance, groceries, and gas for your car. Also list all sources of income, including child support from your spouse. Completing this budget early will allow you to make informed decisions about housing, employment, and even child care.
Create a Full Inventory
One of the most critical components of any divorce is the division of marital assets. Women in Westerville, Ohio, can protect their interests by making a list of all assets, including:
- Real estate
It’s important you do the same with marital debts. Compile a list that includes everything from bank loans to credit card debts. And make a separate list of those assets that matter the most to you, such as family heirlooms or personal belongings. These proactive efforts can help prevent your spouse from trying to hide assets – an act more common than you might think.
Have Assets Appraised
A complete property inventory helps ensure fair division during a divorce and can also facilitate a professional real estate appraisal. Regardless of who keeps what assets, this appraisal is essential. It identifies your net worth and helps organize your finances. Antiques, collectibles, jewelry, and paintings should all be valued by a professional prior to the end of your divorce.
Open Your Own Bank Account
Opening your own bank account in Columbus, Ohio, is perhaps the most important step you can take to safeguard your finances. This allows you to control your own money without fear of your spouse taking it. Likewise, you should transfer 50% of all funds from any joint accounts to your new account. And, of course, change direct deposits so they, too, go into the new account.
These steps may seem dramatic, but one of the leading causes of chaos during divorce is continuing to use a joint bank account. Your spouse could, at any time, withdraw all the money out of it and leave you empty-handed.
An Independent Woman
Once you officially separate from your spouse, any debts you incur, assets you acquire, or money you earn will be yours alone. These details can substantially impact how marital property is divided in the divorce. They can also factor into whether you receive spousal support, including how much you receive and for how long. In short, statements from your own bank account can serve as financial records for the court.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Being married to somebody legally exposes you to their actions. Your spouse may indeed be a trustworthy person, but that doesn’t mean financial mistakes weren’t made during the marriage. Any act that harmed their credit score could have impacted yours in the process.
Obtain a copy of your credit report as soon as possible and review it carefully. Look for errors and continue to monitor your report even after the divorce is finalized. This diligence can protect you from your spouse’s future actions.
Keep Control of Assets and Investments
Divorces can take time to finalize. You might become tempted during this time to divide assets, including investments, to help move the process forward. But this is a bad idea, as any divorce attorney for women will advise. Relinquishing control gives your spouse the right to drain these resources. Keep your hand in the game and let the divorce move at the appropriate pace to protect your financial future.
Think Long-Term About Taxes
In the midst of a divorce, it’s easy to forget the tax implications of any decision you make. Let’s say, for instance, you choose to control the retirement assets while your spouse gets the principal residence. Each scenario comes with its own tax implications, meaning one spouse might lose considerable money to a future tax burden.
It’s important you discuss every detail, no matter how small, with your attorney before agreeing to any property division. Also, review your filing status now that you will be a single person. Consider whether you will owe money or have a surplus at the end of the year. And remember to change your status at work so you don’t incur an unexpected tax debt when you do file.
Prepare for Child Custody Arguments
Most divorces in Westerville, Ohio, spur disagreements about child custody. Preparing for these arguments will help you stay mentally and emotionally strong. If you and your spouse cannot reach an amicable agreement about custody, the courts will make a decision based on the best interests of your child or children.
If you feel it’s necessary to fight for sole legal or physical custody, you will need evidence to support your reasons. Perhaps your spouse was verbally or physically abuse, in which case you’ll need proof to support your claims. A divorce attorney for women can provide detailed guidance, but viable evidence typically includes:
- Witness statements
- Text messages
- Voice mails or voice recordings
- Medical records
Time Is of the Essence
It’s important you gather this evidence as soon as possible. You can then give it to your attorney for safekeeping, and they’ll use it to negotiate with your spouse and their attorney. The goal is to craft a child custody agreement that ideally suits you and your family.
Get Help in the Westerville, OH Area
A divorce requires that you find your footing as a newly single person. This starts with creating a realistic household budget, opening your own bank account, and listing all of your assets. These and other acts will help protect you well into the future – even as you carve a new life for yourself. Learn more and schedule your free consultation by contacting Woodford Sathappan McGee today.