The following is a guest post by Jennifer Beckman of Beckman, Steen & Lungstron P.A.
How secure is your personal smartphone, computer or other electronic devices? Do you have any information on them—things such as text, contacts, personal e-mails, financial information, social media and web browsing history—that you would be comfortable sharing with your spouse as your marriage winds down?
Unless you’re an anti-technology Luddite or have spent the last 10 years living in a bunker, there’s a good chance you’ve been living a digital double-life—one in which you have stored vast amounts of very sensitive, very personal information on a myriad of electronic devices, above and beyond any public electronic trail you may have left on social media or elsewhere.
All of this information is discoverable and all of it can be used against you by your spouse in the event of a divorce.
However, you can control what they can and cannot access. The first step is to make sure that all of your digital devices—every computer, smartphone, tablet, or other device—is protected against access by anyone other than yourself. The easiest way to do this is to set a strong device password that is hard to crack and known by only you.
Once you have secured your devices, you need to also look at tightening your security for every application, web site and social media service that you use. Fail to do this and your soon-to-be ex-spouse could access your banking app or log into your Facebook account.
It is equally important that you not defeat your own security measures by writing down your passwords. In addition, you should never, under any circumstances, share any password to any device or account that you access with anyone.
If you have an Apple device such as an iPad or iPhone, protect the device by setting up Touch ID so that you can only unlock the device with your unique fingerprints. You should also make sure that no fingerprints other than your own are registered to unlock the device. It is not unheard of for a spouse to take advantage of a poorly secured device and register their fingerprints. If this happens, you have a false sense of security and believe only you can access the device while your spouse also has access to all of your secrets on your device.
The following is a guest post by Jennifer Beckman of Beckman, Steen & Lungstrom.
Getting a divorce may feel like an overwhelming process, as if you’re drowning in a sudden wave of decisions. You might not know where to start, especially when you are also trying to take care of yourself emotionally. Keep in mind that you don’t have to walk through this process alone and your attorney will help you through your divorce process.
These five questions will help you make sure the attorney fits you and your needs.
1. How often do you mediate cases and how often do you take them to trial?
Asking this question will give you an idea of how the proceedings will go, and if they will go in a way you want. Whichever method you think will work better for your case, you will want to make sure the attorney is well versed in that method.
2. What good and bad points do you see with my case?
This might be a tough question to ask, but it is a great way to test how forthright the attorney is. You want to feel like you can trust the attorney to give details plainly to you.
3. How do my opinions and input factor into the decision-making process?
You might want your opinions to have a high input in the decisions, or you might want someone else to take more control in order to help lift some of the burden from you. Either way, you will want to make sure the attorney matches what you want.
4. How/what will you charge me?
This questions is important, especially since you’ll need to evaluate what your financial situation will be after the divorce. It might be hard to think about this post-divorce future, but it’s important to make sure the attorney’s price fits your needs and won’t put you in a hole afterwards.
5. How will you communicate with me?
This questions will give you a clear picture of whether or not the attorney will communicate in a way that works best for you. It will also show you how flexible they are. Phone calls and emails are pretty standard means of communication, but maybe those don’t work best for you. Do they text? Do they make Skype calls? It’s important to feel like your attorney will work with your preferences to make sure you stay well-informed.
The following is a guest post by Jennifer Beckman of Beckman, Steen & Lungstrom.
For many newly separated individuals, learning to develop a budget on a single income is one of the biggest challenges of moving forward with a new life. Your standard of living may need to decrease in order to meet your new financial position. In some cases, you may need to make significant changes to your lifestyle as you move forward. A basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts of budgeting for newly separated individuals, however, will help make that process easier.
As you develop a new budget for yourself, the first thing you should do is take a look at where you are. What are your fixed expenses: car payments, rent, utilities and other payments that you know that you’ll have to make each month? What does your income look like? Understanding how your expenses match up to your income will help you make smarter choices about your variable income.
Following your separation, you should make a serious effort to pay down debt. Divorce can create a hit to your credit score, especially as you close lines of credit that you and your spouse had opened together and have a change in major expenses. Make sure that you make payments on time every month.
Make sure that you update any important financial documents following your divorce. Close joint accounts that you had together. Write out a new will that explains how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death. These simple actions could save you or your dependents a lot of heartache down the road.
Try not to dive straight in with major expenses. What you think you can afford now may turn out to be very different from what you can live with for the next several years. Avoid a pricey new car, an expensive new residence or anything else that could cause you to sink into heavy debt immediately following your separation.
During this difficult period of your life, you should also be careful not to lose track of the distinction between wants and needs. Things that you have been accustomed to having may no longer be necessities. You may have to make some serious cuts to expenses in order to meet your new budget requirements. Dropping your phone plan to the minimum level, getting rid of cable and eating at home more often–even if you hate cooking for one–can all help reduce your expenses and make your budget easier to live with.
Going through a divorce or separation is a challenge. By avoiding new debt and learning to manage your new financial situation appropriately, you can help reduce your stress levels and make your situation more bearable.
The following is a guest post by Jennifer Beckman of Beckman, Steen & Lungstrom, P.A.
Couples do not normally look forward to divorce negotiations, but arriving at a settlement is a necessary part of the process. However, the process does not have to bring out ugliness that permeates and negatively affects the entire family.
Learn how to compromise and cordially settle and you will soon find the secret to successful divorce negotiations.
- Prepare: Avoid having to endure lengthy meetings and negotiations that can further infuriate you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Instead, walk into all meetings armed with the information you need to speed up the process and justify your claims. Provide your attorney with financial documents such as tax returns and pay stubs. Gather information about pensions, retirement funds and child support modifications that are critical during negotiations. When both parties are prepared, it is easier to sort through the facts with a clear mind.
- Know the Law: Before entering a negotiation meeting for your divorce, ask your attorney to explain the range of possible outcomes. Outline the worst– and best–case scenarios. Tempers often run high when couples are unprepared for what could happen if the case goes to court. You can remain cool, calm and collected if you are armed with the restrictions of the laws and your rights as a spouse.
- Prioritize Your Needs: Meet with your attorney before divorce negotiations to determine what you need versus what you want from the settlement. Think about the well-being of any dependents, as well as yourself. Put emotion aside when outlining what you need and treat the process as if it was a business deal. If you make decisions based on anger or resentment, it may not be the most logical or beneficial choice for your future.
Divorce negotiations are difficult, but they don’t have to be devastating. With a reputable lawyer, you will have someone on your side who is protecting your interests.