Break-ups have a tendency to bring out the worst in people. How could they not? Your life is ripped apart. The person who had been your lover, confidant and closest friend has now become the enemy. Divorce can multiply those feelings times by a hundred.

You’re now on the defensive. Even if your split is somewhat amicable, it’s important to take steps to protect your interests when dealing with your ex. That doesn’t mean demanding the house, the car and full custody of the kids. It does, however, mean documenting your interactions with your spouse.

If the marriage you’re leaving has been mentally, physically, or emotionally abusive, chronicling those interactions becomes all the more paramount. It’s unfortunate that so many formerly married couples cannot seem to interact without making the other party absolutely miserable, but it is a reality of divorce. You cannot be too trusting of your former partner. You don’t want to be taken advantage of.

In amicable situations, just be sure to keep notes on your interactions: when and where you met, what was discussed and the agreed upon outcome. Keep all text messages and voicemails.

In more adversarial instances, however, it’s a good idea to have a game plan on how to document interactions with your ex.

If it is at all plausible, first attempt to make a good faith effort in working out rough patches with  your former spouse. Take into account that you are both on high alert emotionally, and while you may see certain actions as a direct affront to you or your future plans, that may not be the case. Try to see the situation from your partner’s point of view. If you still feel that he/she is behaving in an unacceptable and aggressive manner, put your plan into action.

Each plan of action will differ from situation to situation.

In instances where the divorce involves children, you may need to take out a temporary restraining order with the state. This order will prevent your spouse from taking the kids out of state, which she has every right to do without such a distinction. This particular game has become a favorite amongst vengeful spouses who want to hurt their spouse. Children become pawns. Don’t consent to your spouse taking the children and leaving the house. Make sure he/she understands that he/she is welcome to move out of the family home but that the children stay. You may want to entertain the idea of “time-sharing” the house until custody and divorce issues are resolve. If you think your soon-to-be ex may abscond with the kids and conceal them, the temporary restraining order becomes your first line of defense.

You’ll also want to obtain the services of an attorney as soon as possible. As a father entering divorce court and fighting for child custody, it’s imperative to have a professional fighting for your rights. It’s a very sad but true reality that even with a good attorney, court decisions are more skewed in favor of the woman. The odds are stacked against you, at least at first. So do your research. Be sure that the attorney you retain has a good reputation. Read Google reviews. Ask questions. Call your state’s Bar Association. You’re essentially trusting your lawyer with your life, so it’s not overkill to investigate them thoroughly.

Take steps to protect yourself financially. Cancel all joint credit cards and safeguard all joint bank accounts. It’s common for a livid spouse to clean out joint accounts. Protect yourself from being left with nothing by taking half of the account balance. Inform your spouse in writing, and make arrangements to ensure that all the bills are covered. Explain to your spouse that this is not an attempt to ruin him/her financially. If you choose to open a new banking account, switch banks.

Also make a record of all the joint and personal property. Inventory your house with a camcorder. Open drawers. Look in closets. This protects you incase some items go missing. You will have an existing record of what was in the house.

Be sure to start keeping a journal of daily events. Record telephone calls, time spent with the kids, arguments and any information you uncover that could be important in divorce proceedings. This is  a written record and will be used as evidence so be sure to only stick to the facts and site specific dates and times.

Do not sign anything in advance of the court ordered decreed. You could be tricked into signing something that your lawyer will have trouble changing later. If there is a document that requires your signature, be sure to let your  lawyer look it over before signing.

Prepare for your former spouse to make false allegations. Some may be an affront to your integrity while other accusations may be down right criminal. All are in an effort to control the situation. If accusations against you are leveled, contact your attorney immediately.

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