Over time, it is very easy for people to forget things that might be useful to your attorneys at trial or settlement negotiation. Consequently, the following suggestions are made to assure that we have all the information necessary to properly handle your case:
1. Keep a diary. This can be in the form of annotate date book or a calendar with room for you to write on it. If your spouse is coming home late or returning the child at inappropriate hours, note the times in your diary. If there are inappropriate acts which take place, write them down. Bad language or bad conduct should be noted at the time, or as soon thereafter as possible, that it occurs.
2. Please be very selective in choosing the persons with whom you discuss your case. Family members, close friends, hairdressers, etc., are apt to, while meaning well, give you a great deal of misleading information based upon “their” experience. We will explain to you, upon request, the reasons for any recommendations which we make. Where necessary, we will show you the appropriate Rule, Statute, or case. Please feel free to ask us questions. This is your life. You are entitled to answers which are as complete as possible.
3. Where there is something which you deem to be appropriate to preserve in this fashion, take photographs. If at issue is your standard of living, photographs of you in expensive overseas hotels, and restaurants are useful and evidential. If there are any questions relating to your relationship with a child, photographs of you and the child on vacation, sailing, etc., will pay great dividends in Court. If you do have potential witnesses, don’t hide what is happening from them. If, for example, your husband gives you a black eye, don’t tell the doctor that you got it walking into a wall. If your wife spends a great deal of time away from your children, don’t tell everyone what a great mother she is. This is not to say that you should be discussing the case with everyone. That is dealt with above. When you discuss the case with someone who is going to be a potential witness, tell the truth.
4. Don’t throw anything out which could be relevant. Save all documents, correspondence, bills, or records, relating to your case in one file, which you should bring with you each time you come to our office, when you attend depositions, or when you go to trial. If you are concerned that your spouse might get his hands on your documents, leave your file with a good friend.
5. Please notify us, at once, of any change in your spouse’s or your employment, including increases and reductions in salary, loss of job, etc. If you have not been working and return to work, tell us. Should you change your address or telephone number, please notify us at once.
6. Should you learn from any source of anything which might affect your case, please communicate all new developments to us – promptly.
7. If there are witnesses who you know are going to be involved on your behalf at trial, please ask them to write out, without consultation with anyone else (including you) the details of the testimony which you expect them to give, while the incident or incidents involved are still fresh in their mind. Bring us those statements; as soon as possible.
8. To avoid the possibility that during the time that this matter is pending you might pass away leaving your assets to the spouse you are now divorcing, we strongly suggest that you prepare a new Last Will and Testament at this time. This may be appropriately done immediately after a Complaint for Divorce is filed. In the interim, we strongly suggest that, should you have executed any Powers of Attorney to your spouse, you cancel them immediately by written document which should be filed with the County Clerk.
9. Should you have any joint checking accounts with your spouse, which include overdraft privileges, so that your spouse has the ability to borrow money which you may have to repay in the future, terminate such accounts. For the same reasons, terminate all joint credit cards and convert them to credit cards in your own name. Should there be lines of credit or any other mechanisms which would enable your spouse to borrow monies which you may be called upon to repay in the future, stop them. You may, of course, want to obtain your own, separate, credit cards, lines of credit, etc. If this is not clear, please discuss it with me or with another lawyer on our staff.
10. Do not try to be your own detective. This could lead to serious criminal problems because of the stalking law recently enacted in New Jersey. Do not try to follow your spouse or any person with whom you think your spouse might be involved.
11. Be aware that you are, because you are human, under great stress. It is during the time that people are getting divorced that they are most prone to have automobile accidents, accidents at work, etc. With this in mind, try to be extra careful.
12. If you feel that you have been seriously harmed, physically or emotionally, by your spouse’s actions during the marriage, please let us know the details as quickly as possible. In many cases, it is possible to recover from those damages, however, there is a very strict time limitation (Statute of Limitations) within which such lawsuits must be brought. Further, such lawsuits for damages must be brought as part of your divorce action. If there is any question about this, please discuss it with the attorney assigned to your case at your earliest opportunity.
13. If you are thinking about getting into a fight, think about what it might cost to win.
14. If you change your address, you must notify the I.R.S. at Holtsville, New York. You can obtain a form for this procedure from your closest I.R.S. office. It is important that you follow this procedure promptly to assure that you receive all relevant notices.