Sometimes, people start a divorce by going to a lawyer, paying a retainer, and signing a contract to start with the divorce proceedings. Others may speak to an attorney and then go home to gather all the necessary documents to plan for the divorce. If you suspect that your spouse might be doing some planning, here are some signs to help you figure that out.
Let’s say you and your spouse have always shared all parenting responsibilities. Dad takes the children to soccer; Mom takes them to dance. Dad works on homework with them or sometimes Mom does.
Then suddenly there is a shift in responsibilities. One parent is now doing everything – taking the children everywhere, making the doctor appointments, setting up play dates, making dinner, and putting them to bed. There suddenly is a parental superhero in the house, because even though both may still be there physically, only one is doing their share of parenting. A few months of that and suddenly you’ve got a status quo that is hard to ignore.
That goes for other areas of the children’s lives as well. Mom’s family is being pushed to the side to spend more time with Dad’s family. Dad is actively signing them up for their activities – something he never did before. He suddenly opens a savings account for them and he’s putting a lot of money in there.
Another indication could be if the children are suddenly seeing a counselor for the first time. If a spouse is planning for a divorce and thinking ahead about a trial, therapists have a unique ability on the witness stand. If he or she is qualified as an expert, then they can offer an opinion to the court about your children and then tell the judge about the basis of that opinion, which can include everything your children have said to them. If those children have been coached by the other parent on the way to their counseling sessions, they might have said some things you don’t like – things they don’t even mean.
Another sign that your spouse might be preparing for a divorce can be found in your bank accounts.
If your accounts seem to have less and less money, though nobody’s job has changed and the expenses have stayed the same, it might be a sign that your spouse is holding back money and saving it in a separate account. More directly, if your husband or wife has opened a new account and has started putting funds which are out of your reach into it, they might be getting ready for a fight. A stockpile of cash like this can be important because it takes money to hire an attorney, not to mention starting a new life from scratch.
Ultimately, this can be a matter of one side making sure they have enough money, and at the same time, trying to deprive the other of as many resources as they can. Look for signs, such as the opening of a P.O. Box, new credit cards with new limits, or the closing of joint credit cards. If it looks like your spouse is gathering the monthly bills and financial statements in a newly central and organized way, he or she might have been advised to do so.
Other Things to Look for
If your spouse just started keeping a diary or journal or if you have noticed that they are recording more (audio, video, or photographic) with their phone, they might have been coached to do so.
If you find that your spouse’s social media posts have changed, you might be seeing a sign of impending disharmony. For instance, if the tone of their posts change to a more wholesome tone, then it’s probably a good idea to go back and see if some of the older posts – the ones your husband or wife might not want a judge to look at – have been erased.
Has your spouse changed their passwords or been more secretive with their phone? Are they using new phrases like “best interest”, “community property” or “no fault”?
These could all be signs that they have been speaking to a divorce attorney. You might consider finding a board-certified family law attorney to explore your options and figure out the best course of action.
Jeff Anderson is a partner in the Family Law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. He has devoted his legal career to family law litigation, with a focus on complex property, custody and enforcement. Jeff is Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.