Ten Ways to Prepare for a Divorce
Divorce is not easy, but it does not need to be brutal or treacherous. Here are ten steps you can take to prepare yourself..
Get Your Paperwork Together
As any family law attorney will tell you, you will need to disclose all of your finances. If you and your spouse have children, you will also need to share information about child care costs, schedules, school enrollment, and more. If you do not have your financial documents organized meticulously – and let’s face it, many of us do not – then do yourself a favor and go through all of your relevant documents before the process begins. Get your tax returns tidy, prepare to have paystubs, and look into all of your paperwork for investments and assets. You will need real estate documents, retirement accounts, and personal savings and checking accounts fully accounted for and ready to share with the attorneys.
If you and your spouse essentially agree on the details of the separation, and who will leave the marriage with what assets, then consider working with a mediator. You can save a great deal of money by having both of you work with the same individual mediator, and crafting the separation documents together. An amicable, consensual approach may be possible, and more affordable.
Take Responsibility and Be Active
Do not be passive and allow the process to be handled by lawyers alone. Pay attention to every step, and do the research to understand the steps you will be undertaking, and what will be expected of you.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Focus on the future, and focus on the big picture. Do not dwell on past hurts, and unnecessary details of past wrongdoings. Envision how you want your situation to look in five years, and work calmly toward realizing those goals.
No matter what, this will be an emotionally challenging time. Get enough rest, do whatever you can to relax, and be kind to yourself. If you can, indulge in some comforts you may not have allowed yourself before. Get a professional massage. Meditate. Eat healthier food. Take time to center yourself and find enjoyment in simple pleasures.
Maintain Your Integrity
Do not badmouth your spouse on social media. Avoid gossiping and venting with mutual friends. Do not talk badly about your spouse to your family or to the kids – even if your spouse is doing that to you.
This may mean speaking to a therapist or a counselor. This may mean opting to spend your free time with friends who are more positive, and more reluctant to dish dirt. Choose, at least until this divorce is finalized, to be around people who can help you keep calm and level-headed.
Treat it Like a Business Deal
In many ways, a divorce is a business transaction. Treat it as such. Pretend your spouse is a co-worker with whom you will need to maintain a civil, even-keeled dialogue.
Manage Your Finances
Watch your spending. Avoid extravagant travel or indulgent purchases for now. You want to show, on paper and in reality, that you do not make rash, impulsive financial decisions.
Keep it Child-centered
If you have a child or children, view this whole process as a move to create the most stable, most supportive environment for the children. The decisions you make will be easier to undertake if the first consideration is always the child’s happiness and well-being. This is particularly relevant when negotiating visitation schedules, school decisions, and living spaces.