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Things to Do Before you File a Family Case

Top 10 Things to Do Before you File a Family Case *

1. Take down any offensive information from social networking sites. MySpace, Facebook and personal blogs are your public face. Your status of “married/single” or “looking for love” could be the lynch pin in a divorce action with allegations of infidelity. Likewise, mention of drug/alcohol use, photos of you partying, and inappropriate content may be judicial admissions against you in a custody case.

2. Do not threaten the opposing party, harass them with texts or phonecalls or tell them that you are about to file suit. Text messages, e-mails and phone records are discoverable material in a case, so be careful what you say. There could be a permanent reminder out there.

3. Read the standing orders of your court’s jurisdiction, which are usually available through the district clerk of the Court. For example, Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Denton all have orders that you must obey that include not transferring money from joint accounts, prohibit making purchases that are not for reasonable living expenses, hiding the children or threatening the other party.

4. Don’t coach your children about what to say or involve them in litigation. Children should be children and don’t need to be hauled into Court and the dysfunction that comes with litigation.

5. If CPS has contacted you, cooperate with the safety plan. However, consult an attorney prior to agreeing to the terms.

6. Avoid substance abuse. If you use/abuse drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, remember that drug tests can go back as far as 3 months for certain drugs.

7. Change all your passwords to e-mail or personal accounts. However, in a divorce, you cannot change passwords to joint accounts.

8. Form a safety plan if you are in threat of domestic violence. Pack a bag, call a friend and know a safe place where you (and your children if you have them) can go until things settle down.

9. Do not obtain illegal evidence. Don’t go on your spouse/partner/girlfriend’s computer and download information. If evidence is obtained illegally, then you can be liable up to $10,000 per violation under the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

10. Understand that this is a major life change. It won’t be easy. However, it is a necessary step. Seek a licensed therapist or counselor to help you transition through this significant life event.

* (Image c/o Creative  Commons)