While you may be ready to end your marriage, the prospect of filing for divorce can be daunting. It’s no small feat to divide your assets, determine a child custody arrangement and restructure a new life for yourself.
While you may be overwhelmed, there are some concrete steps you can take to prepare for the divorce. These actions can make your divorce proceed more smoothly and give you confidence that you are setting yourself up for success.
Prepare. Organize. Educate.
You’ll want to carefully prepare, organize documents and accounts, and educate yourself on key information before you file for divorce. Consider the following actions:
- Gather financial information – Income information for you and your spouse, bank accounts, investments, tax returns. You want a complete picture of your financial situation before you head into property division.
- Take note of all joint accounts – While married, joint accounts make a lot of sense for spouses who are equally sharing assets. Now that you are planning on divorcing, you may worry that your spouse will try to drain the account in the months ahead. Depending on your situation and whether any orders are already in place, you should promptly discuss with an attorney whether to transfer funds from joint accounts.
- Start to establish your own credit record – If you and your spouse shared credit, you will want to open a card under your own name to start building your own credit score. This will help if you need to rent/buy a home or car in the future.
- Create a new budget – Once you divorce, you can no longer depend on your spouse’s income. Look at your sources of income and develop a workable budget that can set you up for financial success given your new situation.
- Consider your emotional health – Even if you are ready for this next step, divorce is difficult. Consider finding a mental health professional who can help you process this turbulent time. Regular exercise, sleep, a healthy diet and spending time with loved ones can also help.
- Find an attorney – Find an experienced family law attorney you can work with. Discuss your options to determine whether you would be interested in pursuing a collaborative divorce, mediation or other alternatives to litigation.
- Plan how you will tell your family – Think through how you want to tell your spouse and other family members about your decision to divorce.
Remember to treat yourself with kindness. Planning for and going through a divorce is never easy. Do not expect everything to go perfectly smooth from start to finish; however, having a plan in place can guide you through this difficult transition.