California Divorce Planning

By | September 23, 2012

While you are still married, planning for your divorce in California may feel a little unwholesome or even disloyal to your spouse because, well, you’re still married. Most of us have been brought up to feel this way and feel guilty for even contemplating divorce. However, if you are seeing signs of an impending divorce, you are doing yourself a disservice by ignoring the signs and failing to act. Of course, spouses have a continuing fiduciary duty to each other even during a divorce, so the kinds of actions you might consider in divorce planning are not things like cashing out your retirement plans or your bank accounts, opening up overseas accounts, or selling of jewelry and stashing the cash. Those kinds of actions might set off a divorce even sooner. The kinds of things people should consider when planning a divorce in California are often matters of record keeping and financial analysis. In a divorce situation, one party may suddenly leave the family residence. It does not have to involve domestic violence or anyone forcing the other out, but often one party decides to vacate the family residence for one reason or another, usually because they have had enough tension of living under the same roof with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Well, when a person suddenly leaves the family residence, he or she often does not have time to pack up all of their belongings, much less their bank statements, pay stubs, credit card statements, mortgage statements, tax returns, or other important documents that may ultimately be of importance in determining issues like child and spousal support, division of marital property and allocation of debts. While the party remaining in the house may not outright destroy documents left by the other party, they may not go out of their way to share them either, which may require extensive and costly discovery proceedings at worst or cause you to pay out of pocket for replacement documents at best. In order to avoid the pitfalls of lost or missing financial documents, you should copy them and store them off site or even image documents and keep them on your flash drive or “the cloud” (if you feel safe committing your sensitive financial documents to the uncharted nether regions of the internet). If you can collect documents going back 3 to 5 years, so much the better. You will be prepared and have a good number of documents you may require in your upcoming divorce. You will not have broken any trust or fiduciary duty to your spouse because you have a right to the documents, which are presumably being stored in unsecured locations. (Aside, if the documents are under lock and key or in some password protected area of your computer, then you shouldn’t trespass, as it is arguably an invasion of privacy, and more importantly, you should be very worried about what your spouse is hiding things from you! It might be another sign of an impending divorce!)