The immediate time after separation from your spouse can be very hectic. In all likelihood, you are scrambling to get your finances in order, trying to find a place to live, and thinking about a future that is much different than what you were expecting the day you walked down the aisle. If there are also children involved, you need to start taking action to protect your rights, especially if you plan on fighting for custody of the children.

For our purposes, we are going to assume you had no idea this was coming and are starting out from scratch. The next couple of weeks are going to be hectic, but we have a plan to get you started on winning your custody battle.

  1. Secure Legal Counsel – while you may be able to work out a divorce with no children without much help from an attorney, this is not going to be the case where children are involved. Even if you and your spouse expect an amicable divorce, you want to protect yourself by having an attorney look over the final agreement and protecting your rights during the divorce process.
  2. Protect Your Finances – It may sound a bit heartless, but you need to make sure you are protecting your finances, past, present, and future. Check over all financial statements to see if money has been taken from the accounts that is out of the norm. Whether she has or has not done this, it is probably time to consider separating finances from this point forward. Moving forward, open up a separate bank account and move your direct deposit over to it. This is something you will definitely want to consult with your attorney about to see what you legally can and cannot do in terms of protecting your money.
  3. Secure Reasonable Housing – if you expect to fight for custody and/or have your children spend time with you, you are going to need to keep this in mind when you secure housing. You also need to consider the location of your new home. If your move means the kids have to change schools, leave their friends, etc…you are going to hurt your chances of winning custody.
  4. Try and Work It Out – hopefully, even though you are getting divorced, it is on peaceful terms. The more you two can work together, the quicker and less costly the divorce will be. This will also make the “forced” relationship (meaning interactive times relating to the children) much easier on both of you.
  5. Revenge Is NOT an Option – anger is understandable, especially if you were the one “crossed” or that unexpectedly had the divorce bomb dropped on you. However, there is a lot more at stake here other than your feelings. Take the time to cool off and understand that being reasonable during the proceedings will make life easier not only with your ex, but will also help your child custody case when it gets in front of a judge.

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