How long the divorce process takes depends on a number of factors, including how many issues spouses are in dispute over and the complexity of the assets and debts they're dividing. Until the papers are signed and the divorce is final, there are things you can't do, at least without the authorization of the court, and also things you're required to do.
It's essential to understand what those restrictions are. If you don't comply with them, you could find yourself in trouble with the court. Let's look at a few of the more common restrictions.
- If your spouse is on your health insurance policy, you will need to keep them on that policy until the divorce is final. If you're the one who counts on your spouse for your insurance, that's good news, as it gives you some time to get other insurance before you lose your current coverage.
- If you have children, even if you're the one whom they're currently living with and you're seeking primary custody, you may not be able to take them out of the state without the permission of your co-parent or the court. If you're planning to travel with them after the divorce, it's essential to address that in your custody agreement.
- You can't sell or give away property that you and your spouse jointly own. For example, you can't sell your home, car or boat on your own if they're in both of your names.
- If you have joint bank accounts, don't empty them. Don't max out joint credit cards, either. These actions can be seen as retaliatory and an attempt to keep your spouse from getting money that's rightfully theirs or sticking them with credit card expenses that they knew nothing about. Use these products only for reasonable expenses during your divorce.
The best way to avoid running into problems is to check with your attorney before taking any action that could be an issue. It's also wise to keep an eye on your joint financial products as you go through the divorce to make sure that your spouse isn't doing anything untoward. It's essential to understand your and your spouse's rights and obligations to each other as long as you're still legally married.