What should I do to protect my finances now that we have filed for divorce?

If you are the person who asked for a divorce, you may be surprised by the emotional chasm between yourself and your spouse and how long the process is taking. You spouse may be shocked, hurt and feel confused by your decision and it can take time for your spouse to engage in the divorce process or “catch up”. Many of my clients are frustrated by this delay, but there are still steps you can take to prepare yourself for what happens next. Here are five financial steps that you should do after you file:

1.    Set up a divorce notebook.  Use a binder or file folder that have sides to them so that when you lift up the file, things don’t fall out the sides. There can be a lot of paper generated during your divorce and having those papers organized allows you to be more prepared and less disoriented.

2.    Open individual bank account(s) in your name. New accounts often have more restrictions such as deposit holds. The sooner you can start a history with a bank, credit union or other financial institution, the sooner you will establish credibility with that institution. These are accounts in your name individually, and minimally you need a checking account and a savings account.

3.    Apply for a credit card in your name. If you have kept your credit cards separate, then you already have individual accounts. If you’ve been operating your credit cards as joint accounts, however, you want to have an account in your name. If you’re not sure if you’ll qualify, then get your FICO credit score first.  Remember that whenever you apply for a credit card, you get an inquiry on your credit report.  

4.  Scan financial statements and documents. You’ll want to get into the habit saving and downloading any financial statements that you receive so that you have them at hand, or file them in your divorce file for easy access. These documents include investment and bank statements, tax returns (most recent two years), debt statements, social security reports (usually received before your birthday), and any other statements that have to do with assets and liabilities (debts).

5.    Get your credit report and credit score.  Your credit score will give you information about what your credit options are, and the credit report will let you know which of your existing credit cards are joint vs. individual, as well as letting you see if there are any financial items you don’t recognize.

You can contact me at Amanda@gordonfamilylaw.com for more information.

Can you appeal your family law court decision?

If you are likely many litigants and have recently had a disappointing court hearing with a family law court, you may be wondering if you can appeal that decision.  Experienced family law attorneys in the Bay Area will tell you that the first step is for you to request the Reporters Transcript from the hearing.

Whether your hearing was a law and motion hearing for 20 minutes or a longer hearing where evidence was taken, you will first need a copy of your hearing’s transcript to determine your options.

If you have a temporary order for Attorneys fees, child support, or spousal support you normally have 60 days from Notice of Entry of Judgment to appeal the order.

You can extend the time allowed to appeal the order by filing one of the following motions:

(1) Motion to Reconsider

(2) Motion to Vacate

(3) Motion for New Trial

(4) Motion for Judgment CCP 631.8  

If you have questions about whether you can or should appeal your family law decision, please reach out at amanda@gordonfamilylaw.com

How much time do I have to fill out my financial disclosures?

Have you filed and served your petition?  Turned in your proof of service? Great, the next step after you have filed for divorce will be to start working on your financial disclosures. This means you need to disclose everything you own and owe to the other party. 

How soon should you start working on this? Right away! The deadlines for preliminary disclosures are quick as a preliminary disclosure declaration may be served with the summons and petition or thereafter. See Fam C §2104(a). The declaration must be served within 60 days of filing the petition. Fam C §2104(a), (f).

The respondent may serve his or her preliminary declaration, along with his or her response, no later than 60 days after filing the response. Fam C §2104(a), (f). These deadlines may be extended by court order or by written agreement of the parties. Fam C §2104(f) (operative Jan. 1, 2013). See also Fam C §2450; Cal Rules of Ct 5.83(c)(4)(C). 

You will need to complete the following documents:

FL 142: Schedule of Assets and Debts

FL 150: Income and Expense Declaration

FL 140: Declaration of Disclosure 

FL 141: Proof of Service of Declaration of Disclosure. 

You can contact me at Amanda@gordonfamilylaw.com for more information.

Check out our post about how to fill out FL 150 here for details on how to fill out your FL 150 properly.   

What is FL 110 or Summons?

The first few steps of filing for divorce in California can be tricky.  You will need both a Petition for divorce as well as a Summons.

 In any court action for divorce, the Petitioner must first present an original completed form, Summons (Judicial Council Form FL-110), to the court clerk after payment of all applicable fees.

The clerk then "issues" the summons and retains the original in the court file. The clerk will file stamp conformed copies (for service and your file).

Next, both the Petition and the Summons must be properly served on the Respondent. 

You can contact me at Amanda@gordonfamilylaw.com for more information.