Preparing For A Divorce 101

Serving clients in Gadsden and Nearby Areas of Alabama

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There is nothing that causes more emotions, fighting and stress than death and divorce. Some would even say that divorce is worse. As a Gadsden Divorce Lawyer, I’ve personally experienced the trauma of going through a divorce. Sometimes, I jokingly tell clients that a lawyer should not be allowed to represent a client in a divorce unless the lawyer has also gone through a divorce. That’s because being a victim of a divorce puts a whole new spin on how you look at a divorce case and how you sympathize with clients.

In every case where I represent a client in a divorce, the facts and people are unique but there is some common advice that applies to every divorce case.

1. Keep Your Cool. Opposing attorneys and your spouse would love nothing more than to have a string of text and phone messages where you’ve lost your temper and gone off the deep end. This allows them to portray you as an out of control person who places your spouse and kids in fear of verbal abuse and violence. Even if you’ve never been physically or verbally abusive to your spouse, presenting copies of angry text messages and phone messages gives your spouse and his/her attorney some ammunition to make that allegation. To avoid this, always pause before you fire back a “hot text” or leave a blistering voice mail in response to something immature or stupid that your spouse has done. Always assume that a Judge will be reading your texts and listening to your phone messages at some point and ask yourself, “Would this message make me look bad in court?” You should also ALWAYS assume that all phone conversations with your ex-spouse are being recorded. In many states, your spouse doesn't have to tell you that he or she is recording the call in order for it to be legal. If you receive any of these messages, make sure you preserve them so that you can provide them to one of our Gadsden divorce attorneys when we meet with you.   

2. Document, Document and Document. I won’t go into giving hundreds of examples because it’s not necessary. However, if your spouse does something that is damaging to your case or if your children tell you something bad that occurred while with their other parent, you should document in detail what occurred, when you learned about it and the date and time it occurred. It is also very helpful to list the names and addresses of any witnesses that observed the event.

3. Don’t Allow Your Spouse Extra Time With The Kids. If you’re fighting over custody of the kids, always be on time to pick the kids up and always exercise your right to see the kids at every visitation, without fail. Not picking up the kids on time and allowing your spouse to have extra visitation can hurt you in a variety of ways, including gutting any argument you have that the other spouse is an unfit parent. After all, if the other spouse is an unfit parent, then why would you allow your kids to stay with that spouse more than the minimal time allowed by the court?

4. Identify ALL Debts Individuall And Together. This involves making a list of the debts you know about but also involves you checking your credit. There are a ton of credit agencies on line that will check your credit and we don’t endorse any particular one. However, running a credit check can sometimes reveal that your spouse has a debt that he or she attached or forged your name to that you may later be responsible for paying.

5 Avoid Any Criminal Trouble. Ok...Stop…don’t just move on to the next paragraph, even if you’re a law abiding citizen whose never been arrested. A very common thing for a man or woman to do after a divorce is to call some current or old friends and let them take you out to "blow off some steam" or “get your mind off things.” Often, this involves having some drinks somewhere. While everyone has the right to blow off some steam, you must keep control of yourself. One common mistake I see as a Gadsden Divorce Lawyer involves driving home from the restaurant or bar after having some drinks. This can lead to a DUI, which can severely damage your case and make you look like an out of control person. If kids are involved, the implications to your case can be even worse. Additionally, if your spouse or a private investigator is watching you leave, don’t think for a second that they wouldn’t make an “anonymous” call to the police about a suspected drunk driver and try to get you pulled over. The LAST thing you want is to be battling an ongoing criminal case against you while you're also fighting your ex spouse in a divorce and/or custody case.

6. Change Cell Phone Accounts If You And Your Spouse Use The Same Provider. In some cases, your cell phone records can absolutely kill your case, especially if there are allegations of infidelity or there is “someone else” in the picture. Additionally, most phones today will transmit your location to your provider and most cell phone companies have a service that you can sign up for that will allow a person to see your exact location if that person has access to the account. It may also be a safety issue if you have a spouse that is stalking you. You should also be aware that text messages, photos and other important information is often stored on a "cloud" service that can be accessed by anyone who can gain access to your account or by the court issuing a subpoena.  

7. Use A Pre-Paid Phone. I know that, I mentioned changing providers, but using a pre-paid phone is the safest route to go. Why do you think that terrorists and members of ISIS use pre-paid phones? They’re almost impossible to link back to you. While you're cetainly not a terrorist, you don't want your spouse to make you out to be a bad person by displaying private information about you in court. Never purchase a pre-paid phone through a cellular provider such as Verizon, Sprint, ATT, etc.. Always get one through some company that only does pre-paid phones. When you call to activate the phone, don’t give your true name or address. Some will ask for an email. IF that’s required, then use a NEW email that you activate that does not include your true name or address and that only YOU know about. 

8. Emails And Text Messages Can Be Obtained By Subpoena. The next questions that many of you will have after reading that statement is, “How long do they keep emails/texts?” and “Can they get the content of the emails and texts?” Emails can be obtained, in many cases, for a year or more, depending on the email host. Yes, this includes what was typed in the email by you and received by you and also includes pictures you sent and received via email. As to text messages, Verizon, ATT and other “brand name” carriers, it’s common for the carriers to keep them 7 days but, in some cases, they can be kept up to 30 days. This includes what was typed by you and to you and any pictures that you sent and received. Do NOT send naked pictures, provocative texts or anything else from your cell phone while you’re going through your divorce case, even if you're currently seperated from your spouse. It can come back to bite you.            

9. Obtain Copies Of Financial Documents Before You Leave Home Or File For Divorce. This includes copies of any account statements, bank statements, retirement account statements and copies of your state and federal income taxes for the last 3 years. These will almost always be requested by your spouse’s attorney during the case. Also, it will help in determining alimony and any child support if children are involved. You should also make a copy of anything else you think will help your case. Make sure to take ALL of your own personal records with you so that your spouse does not have them.

Hiring an experienced Gadsden divorce attorney is an important decision. If you’re considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, sit down with one of our Gadsden divorce lawyers to discuss your rights. Meeting with one of our Gadsden divorce lawyers can save you a lot of time and problems if we get involved early. Call our firm today at 256-547-4988 to meet with a Gadsden divorce lawyer about your case. The initial consultation is free.