5 Steps to Take as You Prepare for Divorce
- Consult with a Divorce Coach or Professional
The prospect of divorce is overwhelming, and the process is confusing, especially when it is not something you have a frame of reference for and is not something you expected to ever encounter. A Divorce Coach is able to guide you through the process and manage your expectations. She can provide you with a roadmap, give you advice and actionable steps as you navigate this life changing event. Having someone in your corner to support you lessens the stress and anxiety that is inherent in a divorce regardless of how “friendly” the divorce may be.
- Make Copies and Organize all Important Documents
Find out where all the marital accounts are held including bank, investment, retirement, and college funds. Create or obtain the on-line passwords to these accounts. Gather all legal documents such as wills, marriage and birth certificates, and social security cards. Make copies of other financial and property documents such as tax returns for the last 5 years, property deeds, mortgage or equity loans, paystubs for both you and your spouse, social security statements, life insurance policies, credit card statements and titles to automobiles. Make sure you gather as much information as possible about your finances, both personal and business and make copies of everything including what may be stored on the home computer.
- Determine your Monthly Income and Expenses
Look back at bank statements and spending to develop a budget which will include all income sources. Find out what your spouse earns by either looking at paystubs or financial records if he/she is self-employed. When creating your budget, remember to account for ATM withdrawals and cash purchases. You will want to have a clear picture of what your expenses are on a monthly basis over the past year. Take time now to consider what marital debt exists and the plan for paying it off.
- Develop a Plan for Income During Separation and After Divorce
Have you been a stay at home parent? Do you need to obtain training before re-entering the workforce? Or have you been working and have an established career? Being able to show your earnings or your earning potential will be an important aspect of negotiating the divorce settlement.
- Make Kids Your Number 1 Priority
If you have children, you need to put them first throughout this process. The most important consideration is that the children continue with their normal routine and that their environment is as conflict-free as possible. Do not include your children (regardless of their age) in the financial or emotional details of the divorce. Above all, resist the urge to bad mouth your spouse. Even if your spouse cannot resist, you can provide your children with the stress-free haven they need and deserve during your divorce.