Friday, July 19, 2013


  Although the marriage is undoubtedly over, the Complaint for divorce you just received has taken you by surprise.  This is the norm.  Unfortunately it is also the norm that the filing spouse is way ahead of you mentally and strategically.  He or she has been planning this for some time.  By the time you get the Complaint your joint account is wiped out, the spouse is gone and so are the kids along with a few prized possessions.  So what do you do and what don’t you do now?

            1. IMMEDIATELY secure any and all finances, if its not already too late.  Do it before you even call a lawyer.Open new accounts in your name only.  Take money out of the joint account, cancel all credit cards and debit cards.  Get copies of all financial records, i.e., bank statements, account balances, retirement account balances, loan balances, paystubs, tax returns, etc.  Protect your money and assets.  In short, know and have proof of what, where and how much.

            2.  DO NOT assume that the divorce will be “friendly” and uncontested.  If that were the case the complaint would not have bolted out of the blue.  The head-in-the-sand, my-life-is-over approach is a prescription for disaster.  You can bet your children, child support, custody, house, spousal support and disproportionate division of your marital assets and debt that your spouse is praying for you to take this approach.  Don’t do it.  In 26 years, I have seen many cases start out this way but only a handful end this way.

            3.  AVOID CONFRONTATION.  Confrontation WILL be used against you for custody purposes since domestic violence is a custody factor.  Confrontation may also result in a Personal Protection Order being entered against you.  It may then result in your incarceration.

            4.  DO NOT ABANDON the home and or children, even temporarily, as it may result in the Court determining that you have de facto recognized that the children’s best interest is to reside with your spouse.   After all, you would not have left the children, even to find a new home and settle in, if your spouse is an unfit parent.   Do not leave unless absolutely necessary to protect yourself.  If that proves to be necessary, take the kids with you and immediately seek legal counsel.

            5.  Gather Evidence to prove your spouse’s fault for the divorce, i.e., an affair, drugs, alcoholism, abuse, etc. and to acquire custody and support.  Typical sources of evidence, include, but is not limited to, those listed above in paragraph 1 and Facebook, police reports, counseling and medical records, school records, telephone records, e-mails, text messages, letters and notes, receipts, photographs, and Child Protective Services Reports, etc.   When thinking about evidence, think about how to prove the 12 Custody Factors that the Court will rely upon to determine who should be awarded custody of the minor children.

            These 12 Factors, and the thousands of cases that interpret how to apply the 12 Factors are the only issues that the Court will consider in a custody dispute.  If you have children and are in a divorce, get the 12 Factors now, along with valuable insight into how the 12 Factors will be applied to your case before it is too late.  Contact Dimitriou Law Offices at 616-454-7969 or for your free copy today or call for a free consultation regarding your divorce case!