Interviewer: Do you ever have one party that wants to move out of state when there’s kids involved, are they allowed to do that or they’d be prevented?
Michael Anderson: Yes there are things that you can do to prevent a spouse from moving out of state. Most of the time it’s an agreed upon situation where, ‘I need to move for a job’ or something like that. Now if the custody is shared, if it’s a joint custody situation, you always need to get court approval because the court needs to know not only where the other party is going but how visitation is going to work. Because it’s extremely difficult to do a joint custody situation when kids are in school and parties are across the country. There leaves no continuity for the children. So usually what happens is, custody needs to change. One of the parties needs to have the kids during the school year, and then summer’s usually shared. So the custody arrangement will change but it always needs to go through court. You should never just pick up and leave and move out of state, you should always go through court and get a change in custody. Or if you don’t go through court, at least get something in writing signed by the other party otherwise it could create a world of problems in the future
Preparatory Steps to Take When Contemplating a Divorce
Interviewer: What are some preparatory things you’d instruct your clients to do in preparation for the divorce, so you can come to it with the least harm and trauma and all that?
Michael Anderson: So one of the things that they should do is take a couple of deep breaths and just realize that it’s a part of life. More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and it’s not necessarily your fault – there’s always two people involved. So that’s important to realize; just kind of take a step back, find someone that can give you moral support – a good friend, or a neighbor, or a family member that you can go and talk to in confidence and trust. It’s always good to have moral support. Get your documents together, make sure you have copies of your marriage license, your marriage certificate, your bank accounts, know your social security number, and birth certificates for the kids – get those important papers together and always have those handy. Know what you have; know what your spouse has. Know where the retirement accounts are; know where the life insurance policies are. If you have pieces of property, know where your mortgage is through. Sometimes there’s parties that just, they don’t do their own you know – one party does all the bills, and the other party doesn’t. Know where the license and registration is for the car – get copies of those things, have them with you. Those types of things are important. Know where the debts are – if you’ve got a lot of debt, get copies of it. You will need it whether you’re going to pay it or the other party’s going to pay it, you need to know who owns what. If there’s business interest that the spouse owns, know what the business is, get copies of the corporate records. Things like that. Figure out how you want tax deductions to be for the kids. If there’s two kids, dad might get one of the kids for a tax deduction; mom might get the other one. But kind of have an idea of who’s going to get those or figure those out.
It is Advisable To Prepare a Budget When Contemplating Divorce
Interviewer: What about budgeting? Does the client prepare a budget and figure out where they’re going to live and all that stuff?
Michael Anderson: Absolutely. Some parties are separate first, and then they get divorced. Some parties file for divorce before they actually separate. But all those things need to be figured out. Budget – it’s required by you, through us, to file what’s called a financial declaration with the court, which is a statement of your income so we will need paycheck stubs. If you don’t have any that’s fine, you know, because you’re not working. But we do need a budget. And even if it’s estimated figures, we’re going to need to know an estimated rent, utility bills, cellphone, cable, satellite, car insurance, gas, food – we need to know all of that stuff. Court’s going to want to look at it. To know whether you have a financial need or whether you have the ability to pay the other party. Before you actually prepare that, that’s a good idea to with an attorney because if you put numbers on there that aren’t quite right or they’re under-stated, you won’t have enough to pay your bills. And if they’re overstated the court can say that you’re lying and then hack it down. And we don’t want the court to do that, we want to be able to substantiate those expenses that we put on there.