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248-344-9700

39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 215, Novi, MI 48375

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How to Behave in Court During a Divorce or Family Law CaseDivorce can be a stressful time for almost everyone. Sometimes people act out irrationally due to the high stress and tense situations. However, those actions can have a huge impact on the outcome of your divorce if you are not careful. By working with an experienced attorney, you can be prepared to address the legal concerns in a divorce or family law case. Here are three tips for how you should prepare and behave during this crucial time:

  1. Dress Appropriately for Court: The court is a formal setting and first impressions matter. You want to dress in a clean, respectful way that showcases your responsibility and maturity. Wearing professional-looking clothing to court is your way of showing respect for the judge and the legal system. Besides wearing conservative clothing, make sure you are showered and look clean. 
  2. Stay Alcohol and Drug-Free: Substance abuse is a serious problem, especially when children are involved. Judges will always err on the side of caution and demand the person be drug-tested if they suspect a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol. The best way to avoid this suspicion is to remain sober, especially during all court appearances. If you give the judge a hint of doubt you about your ability to be a good provider, you could risk losing custody of your children.
  3. Do Not Talk Poorly of Your Ex to Your Children: It is important not to talk poorly about your ex to your children since they need to think of both of their parents in a positive and safe light. This applies especially to cases in family court. The judge is also the jury and will look down on you if she or he hears you are bad-mouthing the other parent. According to the Children’s Bill of Rights, children do not need to be subjected to negative talk about the other parent.

Contact an Oakland County Attorney

Whatever the situation, it is helpful to learn how to remain calm and collected. Besides a clear mental state, you also need qualified legal advice. If you are experiencing a divorce, you need the best representation to help you reach a settlement or argue your case in court. Our reputable Oakland County divorce lawyers at Elkouri Heath, PLC, can advocate on your behalf in order to protect your interests during your divorce or family law case. Contact us at 248-344-9700 today to schedule an appointment.

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Posted on in Divorce

Comparing Divorce Rates From Around the WorldOver the past four decades, divorce rates around the world have more than doubled. A recent study conducted by Cheng-Tong Lir Wang and Evan Schofer (sociologists at UC Irvine) compiled more than 40 years of data to look at how divorce rates have changed from a global perspective. Below, we will take a closer look at their results and identify trends. There are many factors for this growth in divorce. However, no matter what the factors are, it is important to find a reputable divorce lawyer.

Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates Around the World

The average rate of divorce amongst all of the nations and territories studied was 4.08 divorces for every 1,000 married people:

  • The countries and territories with the highest divorce rate are Kazakhstan (19.01), Russia (11.49), Cuba (11.03), and Puerto Rico (9.43); and
  • The countries with the lowest divorce rate are Brazil (1.27), Tajikistan (1.21), China (1.13), Chile (.91), Peru (.46), and Sri Lanka (.45). 

The United States was not included in this study because the sociologists considered it too extreme of an outlier. According to a different study, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Arkansas are the states with the highest divorce rate.

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Novi asset division attorneyCouples have been getting divorced for centuries, and while the process may be standard, societal changes can cause divorce attorneys to adjust their approach. One recent issue that may complicate the asset division process is dividing cryptocurrency. The concept of cryptocurrency can be confusing for most people because it is a relatively recent invention. However, if you do own a form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, and are going through a divorce, finding a qualified divorce attorney who understands how to divide cryptocurrency should be your first step.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of financial exchange that is conducted through the internet. It does not belong to a bank, so there are no fees needed to keep it in an account online. Cryptocurrency is governed by computer code, and its computer technology limits the number of virtual "coins" in circulation. When either spouse owns cryptocurrency in a divorce, it is treated as intangible property. 

How to Value Your Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is hard to value, and the market can be extremely volatile. Due to fluctuating exchange rates, virtual currency owned when a divorce commences could be worth 300 times its value by the end of the settlement, or it could be 300 times less. During the divorce process, the value of a cryptocurrency can be determined by calculating the Fair Market Value, or what it would be worth if exchanged for cash. 

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DuPage County parenting plan attorneyWhen couples decide to file for divorce, it is usually in the best interest of both parties. However, the initial changes that inevitably result from divorce can be difficult. They affect yourself, your lifestyle, your partner, and any children you may have. Children can handle divorce in unpredictable ways since they lack the life experience and maturity to fully understand their parents’ decision. Every family must formulate a parenting plan that includes scheduled visitation. Like most areas of children's lives, their new schedule is out of their control, which can make it difficult for them to adjust. Here are some tips to help if your kids are struggling with the parenting plan transition.

Be Nice to the Other Parent

Children pay attention more than you think. If you are talking negatively about the other parent (even if it is on the phone or to someone else), your children are probably listening. Hearing your complaints may make the children feel guilty about loving their other parent. It is important not to confuse the children and allow them to develop their own opinions about their parents.

Give the Children Their Own Space

In many cases, when parents split, one remains in the marital home while the other lives in a smaller residence. Regardless of the size of one parent's new place, it is important for every child to have their own personal space. Whether it is their own room or simply a designated area in the bathroom cabinet, they should feel like they have a place in your new home and in your new life.

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyDivorce is rarely a rash decision. It takes serious consideration from both sides and can have its fair share of consequences. As you begin taking the steps to file for divorce, it is important to be prepared. Divorce can be an expensive process and if you are not careful, it can cost you more than you expected. However, with proper financial planning and preparation, you can work toward a fair divorce that does not permanently damage your bank account.

Evaluate Your Finances

In many divorce cases, one spouse may not know how much money is contained in the couple's joint bank accounts. Regardless of gender, it is important to know what is in your bank accounts and have a general knowledge of your credit report. Look at each bank account’s balance before meeting with your attorney. At the same time, evaluate any debts that you and your spouse hold. Having a good understanding of your financial situation will give you an advantage when dividing assets.

Make a Budget

There will be a lot of changes after your divorce, especially regarding your new living situation. It is important to create a budget to determine how much your new lifestyle will cost. Will you be renting an apartment? Will you be paying for utility bills on your own? How much is your weekly grocery bill? These are important questions to consider when creating a budget. Once you have a budget that covers your necessary living expenses, the judge can determine a proper amount for spousal maintenance/support.

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyWhile marriages are usually intended to last forever, many do not make it that far. When a marriage ends in divorce, there are usually a variety of factors that led to its demise. Some couples grow apart; others realize their compatibility does not last an entire lifetime. Each couple may be unique, but studies have shown that many divorcing couples experience similar issues that lead to the breakdown of their marriage. These include:

1. Refusal to Work on Mental Health Issues

Many individuals suffer from mental health issues, yet some refuse to seek professional help. If one partner is dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, their actions not only affect themselves but their spouse and other family members as well. The other spouse may struggle to understand their partner’s struggles, especially if they do not appear to be taking active steps to improve. If one spouse refuses to seek professional help for a mental illness, the impact on their relationship can be detrimental and eventually lead to divorce. 

2. Dangerous Addictions

In a marriage, it is important for couples to prioritize their relationship and the life they are building together. For those that struggle with substance abuse, it can be easy for their marriage to get placed on the back burner. A spouse's personality may change when they are drinking, or they may become dangerous as a result of their drug use, and in many cases, it is unlikely that they will willingly stop using the substances. The other spouse may feel neglected, and they may even suffer physical and emotional abuse, or their spouse may waste marital funds in pursuit of their addictions. As a result of these issues, many spouses will eventually see divorce as their best option.

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Novi, MI child custody lawyerParenting is a job that never ends, even if you and your partner are no longer together. When you choose to get a divorce, you will likely need to create a joint custody arrangement, and both parents will typically have parenting time (sometimes referred to as visitation) with the children. Regardless of your child custody arrangements, it is important to provide a supportive and caring environment for your children--even if the divorce is not amicable. Adjusting to new parenting time arrangements can be difficult, but the following tips can help you and your child become accustomed to the changes.

1. Keep a Smile On

Parenting time should be a positive experience, especially for your children. Even if you and your ex do not get along, it is likely that you will still see them when picking up or dropping off children. During these times, it is important to avoid exposing your children to conflict. Refrain from arguing in front of the children or speaking negatively about your co-parent to them. If you have issues with your former spouse that you need to deal with, you should set up a different time and meeting place to discuss those issues when the children are not present.

2. Be On Time

Since you do not get to be with your children full-time, you need to make them your priority when you are with them. Make sure you are prompt when picking them up and try to reschedule any work calls that you may have during that time period. Make a calendar and share it with your former spouse so that there is no miscommunication about who will be taking care of the children.

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyEntering marriage is always a risk. The divorce rate is rumored to be around 50%, and as much as people are excited about the idea of spending a lifetime together, such high divorce rates seem daunting. Whether you are considering marriage or not, there is a new divorce statistic that is different than the standard 50%. With recent research, it appears that the divorce rate in America is actually declining. According to 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate is now closer to 40%. 

Divorce Rates Dropping

Since the year 2000, fewer people have been getting married. The average number of marriages per 1,000 citizens used to be 8.2, but more recently, that number has declined to 6.2 marriages per 1,000 citizens. The conclusion that can be drawn from these numbers is obvious: fewer marriages mean fewer divorces. In 2016, there were 827,000 divorces among 258 million citizens. That number is dramatically lower than the 944,000 divorces (out of 233 million citizens) which occurred in 2000. 

Is a Changing Society Behind the Reduced Numbers?

While it is impossible to determine the exact reason why divorce rates are going down in America, the ever-changing societal view of marriage may be a contributor. As husbands and wives redefine their traditional roles, marriage and divorce rates have changed as a result, since people are getting married and divorced for different reasons than in the past. The normalization of “relationship help resources” may have helped couples solve marital issues that were not being addressed before. Because of this, divorce is no longer the only solution for a marriage facing problems. Couples counseling has gained credibility and become less taboo in modern society. Now when couples are facing troubles, many go to therapy in an attempt to save the marriage. Despite these resources, some marriages remain irreconcilable, leaving divorce as the only option. 

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyThere are many potential causes for divorce, ranging from infidelity, constant arguments, or financial stress to a couple simply not liking each other anymore. Sometimes, the littlest things your partner does can turn into big problems, especially if they involve passive aggression and a lack of proper communication. But what if the actual cause for a relationship's breakdown was more than miscommunication and instead was neurologically-based? Studies have found that a condition known as misophonia can turn your partner’s pet peeves into your most irritating and unlivable nightmare.

Misophonia Explained

Misophonia is a neurological condition in which a person has an extreme reaction to everyday sounds. To many people with this condition, the most common annoyance is hearing another person chew their food; however, those with misophonia can be bothered by nail-biting, scratching, and even certain breathing noises. Slurping, sipping, and smacking are also irritable noises to those who suffer from the disease. This makes it difficult to enjoy dinner with one's partner or lay down next to them, especially if the natural noises a person makes lead to pain for reasons that are hard to understand.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, misophonia affects nearly 20% of the population. This number is likely low, since the condition is underdiagnosed. The exact cause of misophonia is unknown, but neuroscientists have a theory that it may involve an abnormal connection in the brain between the limbic system, autonomic nervous system, and auditory cortex. The limbic system controls emotions, the autonomic nervous system is in charge of flight or fight responses, and the auditory cortex controls hearing. Most people who have misophonia have extra sensitive hearing, causing their discomfort. 

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyWhen one person wants a divorce, it is rare that the other partner is blindsided by the announcement; an unhappy relationship does require two people. However, a new study has found that most initial divorce announcements come from women. When looking over the data, there are a few factors that explain why this may be the case. 

A study by the American Sociological Association surveyed more than 2,000 heterosexual couples and discovered that women initiated 70% of the divorces. However, if a couple broke up while they were not married, there was no significant difference in which partner initiated the end of the relationship. Married women report having lower satisfaction levels in marriage than married men. In non-married couples, the satisfaction levels between the genders remained relatively the same, regardless of whether the couple was living together or not. Looking at historical divorce data, women have been the primary divorce initiators as far back as the 1940s. 

According to Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford who worked on this study, women tend to find marriage oppressive. When getting married, women are more likely to take their husbands’ last names. Societal pressure also considers women to be responsible for doing most of the housework and staying home to raise the children. Most women do not fit these stereotypes but are pressured to do so by society and their husbands, and when they are unhappy in their marriage, divorce becomes their best option. Non-marital relationships often allow women to avoid the stringent societal pressures that come with marriage. 

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyWhen statistics say that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, the outlook for many marriages can seem pretty disheartening. Maintaining a good relationship can be difficult. If your relationship is in trouble, divorce may seem like your only option. However, if you are wondering if your relationship is headed toward a breakup, you may want to learn more about some of the most common predictors in couples that lead to divorce, as gathered from therapists and relationship experts:

Failure to Work on Yourself and the Relationship

When you get married, you make a vow to love each other in sickness and in health. But what happens if you are the one in sickness, but you refuse to take any medication and blame your partner for your illness? That is what it feels like when someone fails to take accountability in a relationship. If one or both spouses do not want to work on their relationship issues or address their partner's concerns, they are likely headed toward a divorce.

Disrespecting Your Partner 

Arguing is inevitable in every relationship, but there are respectful ways to have an argument without blaming one's spouse or using insults. When a spouse continually refuses to listen to their partner's concerns or belittles them during arguments, this is very disrespectful and damaging to the relationship. When a person demonstrates contempt for their partner or refuses to correct behavior that is seen as insulting, this is often a sign that divorce will be likely.

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Novi, MI divorce lawyerDivorce is a major change to your lifestyle. Even though separating yourself from a negative relationship with your ex-partner is for the best, unexpected events can come up that may affect you emotionally. During your divorce, working with a qualified lawyer can help you reach a positive outcome to your case. An experienced divorce attorney will make sure your life post-divorce is as fair as possible in terms of alimony, child custody agreements, and division of assets. After your divorce, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations will all be different. Here are some tips to experience them in a positive way as you begin a new chapter of your life:

Take it Easy

Divorce is hard on everyone. You ended a relationship where you once vowed to stay committed for the rest of your life. During this time, it is understandable to feel a mix of emotions such as anger, sadness, and even rage. You do not have to engage in old family traditions if they bring up painful memories for you. If you and your ex used to take vacations together to a certain destination every summer, you should not feel that you need to continue to travel there on your own or with a new partner. Start making new traditions for yourself to help you move on.

You do not have to try and make holidays or vacations exactly the same as they were pre-divorce. If you used to get together for a big family barbecue, and you do not feel that you are not up to it this year, cut yourself some slack. Divorce has a major impact on your life, and as you pivot to this new stage of your life, expect some things to change--including how you spend holidays and vacations.

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Oakland County, MI child support lawyerChild support can make any divorce complicated. Getting proper child support is a way to help ensure your children have a smooth transition as you begin a new chapter of your life. If you are going through a divorce where child support will be an issue, it is important to find a reputable divorce lawyer who will ensure that your children have the support they need. It is important to understand the basics of child support so you know what you can expect in your case.

Obtaining a Child Support Order

Even the most amicable break-ups can turn ugly when finances are involved. If you create a verbal agreement with your ex-partner regarding a child support plan, you will not be able to enforce punishment if the other party does not uphold his or her agreements. A document needs to be established with the court that instructs how much and how often child support must be paid.

Calculating Child Support

The Michigan child support formula takes into account each parent’s income and the number of nights per year the child spends with each parent. Other factors used to calculate child support include the number of children, the needs of the child, health insurance, education, extracurricular activities, and medical expenses.

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Oakland County LBGTQ adoption lawyerSame-sex couples looking to adopt a child in Michigan have reason to celebrate. Recently, the state recognized its commitment to federally mandated nondiscriminatory provisions in its foster care and adoption agency contracts. 

In March 2019, the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel settled a lawsuit by same-sex couples who argued they were turned away as adoption candidates by faith-based adoption centers based on sexual orientation. Now, faith-based adoption agencies that benefit from state funding are no longer allowed to turn away LGBTQ candidates based on religious reasons. Nessel stated that a 2015 law that allowed state-contracted adoption centers to refuse adoptions based on religious premises violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

In accordance with this policy, the Michigan Department of Human Services must abide by federal nondiscriminatory policies in it's foster care and adoption agencies. If adoption centers are not following these federal policies, their funding will be cut.

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Novi MI adoption lawyerAdoption can be a long and difficult process, but it is one that can lead to great excitement and a new family. For this reason, people do not enter into the adoption process lightly. Even after an adoption is complete, there are still legal issues that will need to be addressed. One such issue pertains to the birth certificate of adopted children, which will always have special conditions. 

Adopted Children Have Two Birth Certificates

Adopted children have an original birth certificate from their birth parents and a new one from when their new parents finalize the adoption. Many adopted children want to know more information about their birth parents once they learn that they were adopted. The date, time, and place of birth are the same on both certificates. The original birth certificate contains the birth mother’s name and the given name of the child. It is often the case that the birth certificate will not contain the birth father’s name, as it is not necessary for a birth certificate. Not having the father’s name on the birth certificate will make it difficult if the child wants to track down his birth father in the future. The new birth certificate has the name of the adoptive parents and the new name given to the child (if there is one).   

Limited Access to Original Birth Certificate 

The original birth certificate is sealed by the state registrar after the adoption is complete. In 25 states, the birth certificate can be obtained by consent of all three parties (child, adoptive parents, and the birth parent). In the remaining states, a court order is required. Obtaining the original birth certificate is a lot easier if the adoption is an open adoption. Open adoption means there is an agreement that allows the birth parent to be a part of the adopted child’s life. Over 90 percent of adoptions are open adoptions. Open adoptions will allow adopted children better access to the medical history and original birth certificate.

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Novi MI alimony lawyer“Manimony” is a play on the term alimony that describes the court-ordered amount a divorced woman pays to her ex-husband each month. If a woman makes significantly more money than her husband, she may be subject to paying him alimony post-divorce. According to the 2010 census, 3 percent of alimony recipients were men but that number has risen. 

How Alimony is Determined

There are many factors that will determine if alimony will be awarded, in what amounts, and under what duration. Two key factors are the length of the marriage and the difference between spouses’ incomes. The larger the income differential is and a longer length of your relationship can result in a higher alimony award. 

Other factors include: the past relations and conduct of the spouses, the abilities of the spouses to work, the source and amount of property awarded to the spouses in the property settlement of the divorce, the parties’ ages and health, a spouse’s fault in causing the divorce, and overall fairness.

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Oakland County adoption lawyerIt is always exciting when a couple decides to pursue adoption. It is an important and big decision that involves undertaking a complex legal process. However, when an adoption is executed properly, it can yield great rewards. If you are considering adoption, it is important to find a reputable adoption lawyer to handle your case. To prepare for the adoption process, let’s go through some important points to consider.  

Hire the Right Professional

To reiterate, it is important to hire an adoption attorney to handle your case. If you try to google “adoption process” on your own, the information can be very overwhelming. There are businesses who call themselves “adoption facilitators” who act as a third-party between you and the adoption agency. Adoption facilitators are not a requirement for the adoption process and are actually illegal in 15 states. If you are approached by a third-party vendor (not an attorney or agency) who claims they can help you find a birth mother, it is wise to turn the other way. Unfortunately, parents seeking adoption are easily scammed due to their vulnerable position.

Know Your Costs

The average adoption costs $40,000. If a third-party vendor offers a much lower rate, it is important to be very suspicious. If you hire an agency for a lower rate, it is important to vet and fact-check all details. Is the agency including travel costs for the birth mother or are there other hidden charges? If costs are rising, it is important to make educated choices rather than emotional ones.

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Oakland County divorce attorneyDivorce can be a difficult process, but it can be even more difficult when you don’t have a qualified divorce lawyer. An unqualified divorce lawyer can not only make the process more stressful for you but will cost you assets and child custody in the long run. There are many ways to be certain that you are hiring an experienced divorce lawyer.  One of the most important ways to do this is by doing your own research. Every case is different, and every lawyer is different. Below find some important tips to keep in mind when you are choosing a divorce lawyer so you can be sure that your case will be treated properly.

Important Questions to Consider

Before taking your first meeting with a divorce lawyer, it is important to be prepared. Your situation is sensitive, and you will want the best person to represent you. Here is a set of questions that should be considered by the client and attorney at the outset of any divorce:

  • What is unique to your case? 
  • What does your lawyer need to know for your case?
  • What is the process for handling a case like yours?
  • Has the lawyer handled cases like yours?
  • Does this firm practice family law?
  • How does the firm handle billing?
  • How long will your case last?
  • Which lawyer in a firm be handling your case?

Next Steps

Now that you’ve asked all your questions, it is time to move on to the next step of hiring a lawyer. Remember each time you talk to a divorce lawyer, it is an interview for them to represent you. Once you feel comfortable finding a lawyer who answered the questions to your liking, it is your next move to hire them and meet in person. Record them on your phone (with permission) or take notes so you can remember everything your lawyer tells you. As he or she guides you through the process, you want to be as prepared as possible that you don’t forget any information or assignments your divorce lawyer tells you. By understanding what is expected of you, you can minimize attorney’s fees.

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Oakland County asset division lawyerOnce a couple decides to get a divorce, it is important each party do what they can to protect his or her assets in a mutual and respectable way. That may not happen on its own, but a good divorce lawyer can help. A lawyer can help you navigate the best way to untangle your finances so you can leave your marriage on the right financial track. 

In the context of divorce, finances exist well beyond the bank account: 401ks, life insurance, stocks, and others are examples of financial products that need to be divided. Below, we’ll discuss social security benefits and what steps to take to make sure you are getting your maximum benefits.

Under Certain Conditions, You Can Still Collect Spousal Benefits

You are still able to receive your ex-partner’s social security benefits even if your ex is remarried if the following conditions are met:

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Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County Divorce lawyer .jpgDeciding to get a divorce can be one of the hardest decisions you have to make. Equally as hard is the fallout from that decision. An amicable divorce process is possible, but not everyone can be so lucky. Whether the breakup was on mutual or harsh terms, it is imperative for both parties to begin to separate their property. Your tech life can hurt or help the divorce process. so it is important to comb through your online presence in order to make sure it is in your favor. Here are some tips to help.

Reset Your Passwords

This may come as an obvious answer, but once you’ve decided to go through with your divorce, it is important to change all the passwords on the accounts you want to keep for yourself. Your partner most likely knows most of your account passwords whether that be for bills, bank accounts, or simple streaming devices. If the break-up is ugly, it is crucial to change these passwords immediately so that no damage can be done. A key to a strong password is to use a password generator, which will be completely random. This will prevent your ex by guessing your password based on personal information (birthday, anniversary date, etc)

Backup What You Want to Keep

It is common in most households for families to share electronic devices such as a tablet or expensive computer. When splitting assets, you might not get to keep all the electronics. Make sure you backup everything on a hard drive you want to keep like documents, photos and tax info. Afterward, restore the settings to factory settings so your ex can’t take any of your files for personal use.

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