Under Arizona law, as soon as the divorce case is filed and served upon the other person, and both parties are aware of the existence of the case, the Preliminary Injunction provides each party with certain protections such as preventing the other party from absconding with the children or assets.
However, even before a case is filed, there are certain steps that should be taken to protect one’s self and to ensure that information remains available and obtainable.
As soon as you believe you will be going through a divorce, make sure you change your passwords to your computer, email accounts, blogs, cell phones, etc. While some of the information on your electronic devices may need to be disclosed and provided, you will need to ensure that you have sole access to these lines of communication. You want to ensure that if your attorney sends you attorney/client privileged communications by e-mail, that only you will have access to these communications.
You should also ensure that you have safely written down the account numbers, account balances, and the name and address of any financial institution or retirement company with which you or your spouse have accounts. This information can occasionally disappear once the divorce is filed, and while your attorney may be able to subpoena or otherwise obtain this information, this comes at a cost.
You should also make a list of any valuable property that you brought into the marriage, or that you have received as a gift or as an inheritance. Under Arizona law, these are likely to be determined to be your sole and separate property.
You should make a separate list or inventory of every item of personal property that you and your spouse own. This can be done with a video camera walking room to room and panning across each room to show the furniture and appliances in each room, or can be done by a spreadsheet or otherwise. If for some reason you are unable to return to the marital home, you will want to have already completed this list ahead of time.
Finally, you will want to find a trusted friend or family member, with whom you can store this information and copies of any important documents that you do not want to disappear or become lost.
If you are considering a divorce or legal separation, and would like to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your rights, responsibilities, and ways to protect yourself in your upcoming divorce, please contact attorney Douglas C. Gardner.