If you are just biding your time until January to file for divorce, you are not alone. Many people wait until the holiday season is past to break the bad news to their spouses and families.
Even so, you should use this time to start to compile all of the documents you’ll eventually need to take with you to a divorce attorney’s office. That includes things like your last several years’ worth of tax returns, statements from your investment accounts, bank account information, employment records for both you and your spouse and other information about your marital assets and debts.
How, exactly, can you do this without raising your spouse’s suspicions? Here are some options:
Gather as much information as you can electronically
These days, you and your spouse may do more of your financial transactions online than anywhere else – and a USB drive is convenient, portable and easy to tuck away from prying eyes.
If you’re concerned that your spouse will notice your search history, see if you can use the computer at the home of a friend or relative – or use one at your local public library.
Get a post office box or an alternative address for sensitive mail
You may need to get hard copies of things like insurance policies, annuity statements or copies of old tax returns. If you don’t want your spouse to spot these items arriving in the mail, opening a post office box may be wise.
If that’s not a viable option, ask a friend or relative if you can have mail sent to their home instead.
Open a new email account
You may need to use electronic communication with financial advisors and others who can help you put together the documents you need. If there’s any chance your spouse may look through your email, you need to get a new one.
It may feel a little bit sneaky to take these steps, but you need to protect your interests. If you don’t compile the information you need for your divorce now, your spouse could find a way to close off your access to important documents – and that could make getting a fair divorce settlement more difficult.