Excerpt from How to File and Survive A Divorce In California
One of the ways to prepare for divorce is that you can protect your interests during a divorce is to be aware of what is happening with your income and your spouse’s income. You should pay attention and make sure that no important documents or possessions are being removed from your home. Be aware of where paychecks are deposited, where assets are kept, and what estate planning documents exist.
Make certain that you have your credit established, and that you have access to credit cards and bank accounts in your name. You will have to disclose any credit cards and bank accounts under your name in the divorce, so this is not a way to hide money, but it assures that you are not left without funds.
Do NOT avoid service of legal documents. It is much better to participate in the action rather than allow it to proceed without your participation. If someone files for divorce, it will go through, and if a person avoids service, the courts will allow for service by publication. It is better to cooperate and participate in the process of divorce rather than avoiding it and hoping that it will go away.
Speak to a family law attorney, and have one that is available in case the divorce does get filed. This way, you have your advocate. It may be in your best interest to have the retainer paid and the attorney ready to go in case you are served.
If you are someone that does not like waiting, or the fear of the unknown is daunting, speak to your spouse. Perhaps you can go to counseling together to determine if you can cooperate so that the divorce is amicable. It takes two people to stay in a marriage, but only one to leave it.
California is a no-fault state. Therefore, the Court is not concerned about who wants the divorce. If one person indicates irreconcilable differences, meaning that he or she does not want to be married, the divorce will be granted.
Preparing My “Marriage Story”
It is important to prepare your “marriage story” or the timeline of important events and dates of significant events that occurred during the marriage. For instance, the marriage timeline should include dates of moves, purchases of property, and dates when the children were born. If one spouse took time off from work to care for the children or to support a move for the other spouse’s job, these items should be included in the marriage story as well. Also, include whether relatives passed away during this time and if someone received an inheritance. Discuss the jobs each of you had during the marriage and any large purchases that were made, such as vehicles, property, vacation home, artwork, and jewelry.
This information will enable you to create relevant facts pertaining to support and property division. As you are preparing your narrative about the facts in your divorce, start to make a list of everything that you own and owe. This would include the marital home and the mortgage, cars, car loans, student loans, credit cards, and retirement accounts.
How Do I Find Out What I Own And What We Owe Together?
California is a community property state. Therefore, all property that was obtained and all debts incurred during the marriage are owed together.
Gathering anything with a number associated with it in your mail, bank statements, credit card statements, or retirement statements would be your first step. Also, make copies of car titles, car registrations, and the deeds of any property that you own. The next course of action is to look at all joint income tax returns over the past few years. I recommend putting together the past three to five years of tax returns. Income earned from interest on investment accounts and rental property income will be listed on the returns. If you are not certain what bank accounts you have, this is a good way to find out since the accounts are listed. Pulling your credit report is essential because it lists open debts that are in your name or that you are associated with. A credit report will also help you detect any credit cards that you may have.
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