Ten Things to Change at the Start of a Divorce
Divorce is a life-changing event that affects everything from your social life to your retirement accounts. Here are the 10 things you should change when starting the divorce process.
- Passwords. Every divorce attorney has stories about how a case got derailed because someone did not change their password. Change all of your passwords and unlink your online accounts. It’s amazing what you can learn just by using their child’s iPad that’s logged into their spouse’s Apple account. We’ve also seen a man harass his wife through a shared Netflix account. To be even more secure, enable 2-factor authentication for all of your sensitive accounts. Learn how to change passwords.
- Security Questions. With particularly vindicative exes, changing your password may not be enough. They may be able to get access simply by knowing the answers to your security questions, such as your Mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet. A password manager can provide more security and also help you keep track of all your new account changes. How to remove your ex from your digital life.
- Spending Habits. When couples split, their income usually decreases, and their living expenses go up. Additionally, you may incur unexpected expenses and you may have legal fees to pay. This is the time to take a hard look at your expenses and to cut back on extravagances while you adjust to your new normal. Check out these financial Dos and Don’ts when going through a divorce.
- Stress and Emotional Management. This one may not necessarily be one that everyone going through a divorce must “change,” but everyone going through a divorce needs to be aware of both their physical and mental health. At a minimum, anyone who is divorcing needs a confidant. Someone they can talk to and who can help them through the process. This can be a therapist, family member, friend, a priest, etc. The best is to have a confidant and a counselor. Divorce is one of the more difficult and emotionally wrought times in one’s life. Having a support system makes navigating the stresses of divorce more manageable. Learn some coping skills to help you get through it.
- Cell Phone Plan. If you are on a shared account with your spouse, you may want to change your phone plan. Otherwise, your spouse might be able to access your communications. For extra security, you may want to consider changing your phone, your number, maybe even your provider.
- Mail Preview. Some people have signed up for Informed Delivery through the United States Postal Service. This allows them to digitally view what mail is coming to an address. It’s convenient when you live together or travel often. But if you’re the spouse who stays in the marital residence, and you have this feature, chances are, your spouse will be able to see every piece of mail you’re receiving. This may be a feature you want to cancel.
- Location Sharing. Knowing where your spouse is during the marriage can be a convenient safety feature. When going through a divorce, it will almost certainly cause conflict. It doesn’t matter if you have an Android or Apple phone, turn that feature off.
- Social Media. Unfollow or adjust viewing settings of your spouse on social media. Divorce can also be a good time for a digital detox. Consider deactivating your social media account, but don’t delete them. Information on the accounts may be discoverable (required to be submitted to the court) by your spouse in litigation.
- Shared Accounts. For someone going through a divorce, we recommend setting up a new email account, one their spouse doesn’t know about. Disconnect any shared or joint online accounts. This will help protect sensitive information, particularly the communications between you and your attorney.
- Catalog Your Online Accounts. We’ve seen vindictive spouses change the password of their spouse’s utility accounts to make it difficult for them to pay the bill. We’ve even some of those spouses ignore court orders to hand over the password. Make sure you know what accounts you have, so you know what to protect. Again, if you worry your ex may be vindictive, it may be best to get ahead of this and change those passwords to something only you know.
Not every item on this checklist will apply to you. Hopefully, this has helped you better understand the changes you can make early to make help you navigate this unexpected and sometimes unwanted transition.