No matter what anyone says, divorce is always legally, financially, and emotionally complex. Some cases are just worse than others. When the stress of divorce combines with the stress of moving, the two can be almost unbearable.
Fortunately, many or most of Texas divorces are “slow-fade” uncontested divorces. Couples gradually drift apart over time, and eventually, one spouse asks for a no-fault divorce. In fact, lots of couples are separated emotionally long before they separate physically. If you see the divorce coming, you are in a better position to take control of your pre-divorce relocation.
A solid and local moving partner helps a lot. Ideally, this partner should combine do-it-yourself empowerment with complete professional services. So, you retain control over the move, and you get the assistance you need to pull it off.
For many people, divorce is a time to move on emotionally. Our clothes closet has a lot to with that movement. Clothes have emotional connections. We think about what we were doing when we wore certain things. If clothes trigger unpleasant memories, it’s time to get rid of them.
Furthermore, divorce usually results in a lower standard of living and downsizing. Separate the things you have not worn in a few months and take them to consignment stores, Goodwill, or a community clothes closet.
Many people overlook this part of a move. Or, they put it off until the last minute. Both these approaches usually end badly.
Include all medical records and empty pill bottles. Your doctor needs to know your medical history, including what medicine you have taken and when. Also, if you have joint records with your soon-to-be-ex, segregate them accordingly.
Jewelry and Valuables
Even if you have not yet filed legal divorce paperwork, keep a careful accounting of what you take and what you leave behind. That’s important both for insurance purposes and to head off future disputes with an estranged spouse.
If a judge has already issued temporary orders, these orders probably prohibit any community property sales or other transfers until the divorce is final. Bear in mind that anything purchased during the marriage could be considered community property. So, do not pawn that anniversary ring just yet.
Personal and Financial Items
Much like medical records, these items are easy to overlook. Yet after you relocate, you will need things like:
- Prescription pickup and drop-off information,
- Safety deposit box information,
- Dry cleaning tickets,
- Birth certificates,
- Social Security cards, and
- Insurance information.
If possible, it’s best to make copies of these things before you move out. If that’s not possible, just keep these things in a handy and secure place.
Take similar care with children’s records, especially since you and your ex will be co-parents. So, you must share things like:
- Health insurance cards,
- School information and educational records,
- Passports, and
- Birth certificates/Social Security cards.
A family meeting with the children is usually a good idea. Even if most of the decisions have already been made, open communication helps them feel like they have a voice in the process.
Electric, water, and other services almost always involve either termination or transfer. Be very careful about terminating services, especially if your partner plans to remain in the house.
It is usually better to transfer service to your new address. Open a new account under your own name with a unique account number. Many times, the new account is a very liberating experience, because it’s the first meaningful new thing that people do as non-married people.
Many times, the family pet is more like a family member. If an agreement or court order requires you to do so, leave the pet behind.
If you take the pet with you, take everything that belongs to the pet. That includes not only toys and food bowls but also shot records and other vet records. These may be in a different format, like on a secure website. If that’s the case, you may want to change the username and password. The same goes for other electronically stored information.
Bank account data, mortgage information, 401(k) data, and other financial information is almost always stored electronically. If you change the username and password, it’s probably a good idea to give this information to your lawyer. That way, if your partner needs it, you do not have to mess with the request.
Even in uncontested divorces, hurt feelings and anger may make you think about doing things you would normally never do. Avoid these temptations at all costs, because you must account for your actions later.