Actions To Take After Your Spouse Walks Out
If you're dealing with the emotional aftermath of your spouse leaving you for good, dealing with the financial and legal ramifications may not be the first thing on your mind. However, it is important to make sure you do take action to help protect yourself and your family. Taking steps for recovery right away can make divorce proceedings and custody agreements easier to arrange in the future. Here are some things to get you started.
1. Open your own bank account.
You will need to start putting your money into your own account as soon as possible and close the joint account if you can. This helps to demonstrate division of assets, but it can also be used to prove that your spouse is guilty of desertion if you and your children depended on them for basic needs. You can show you did not have access to the joint account and use your account statements to show that your partner did not send money to provide for your care after they left.
Contact a lawyer to help you remove yourself from other accounts you might share with your spouse, including car payments and credit cards. This way, if your spouse fails to make payments or maxes out the account, your credit score will not suffer as a result. Mortgages are more difficult to manage, but you will need guidance in this area as well if you hope to keep your home in property division proceedings. Also, start shopping around for different health insurance if you are supported by your spouse's employment, as it can take months to research a good policy.
2. Stop contacting your ex.
In the emotional hailstorm following your spouse's departure, the hurt you feel can lead you to make promises you don't mean, send letters with full of guilt or anger, or even make empty threats in the heat of a painful moment. It is best not to indulge these moments, especially in writing. In a messy court proceeding, written letters can be used as evidence for custody battles or dividing property. You do not want to come across as being unhinged, depressed, or violent -- this will hinder your appearance in court when you're fighting to keep your kids with you.
3. File for divorce.
Filing for divorce if your spouse leaves can get tricky. All states have some form of no-fault divorce proceedings, which is usually the quickest way to end the marriage. However, if your spouse left and you do not know where they went, they cannot be served with divorce papers. You then will have to wait until you can file for divorce on grounds of desertion, which usually takes a year of no contact and no return, but still the courts like to have both parties represented in the divorce, so you must try to find them if possible. If this is not possible, some states will allow you to place an advertisement in the newspaper letting your spouse know that legal proceedings are underway. Other states will have an attorney represent the absentee spouse as if they were present. If you are in the difficult position, you should follow the advice of a divorce attorney from a firm like Law Offices of Gordon Liebmann as closely as possible.
Filing for divorce as quickly as possible after they leave can make it easier to find or track your spouse, pushing the divorce through more quickly. No-fault divorces are easier to obtain, but an at-fault divorce for desertion can be a good idea if you are worried about your ex obtaining custody of your kids and desertion can affect alimony/palimony payments as well. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on which type of divorce is best for you to pursue.