Between 40 and 50% of married couples in the United States get divorced. Despite how often people file for a divorce, many people don’t know how to navigate the process.
With a plan, you can avoid the drama and file for divorce without stress. Here’s everything you need to know about how to prepare for divorce. With these tips, you can educate yourself and get organized.
Otherwise, you could unintentionally miss a vital step in the process. Preparing for divorce properly can help you dodge potential bumps in the road. The process is also emotional, which could cloud your judgment along the way.
Discover the path toward a stress-free divorce with these five easy tips.
- Think It Through
Before you do anything else, give yourself a moment to think about the decision.
Once you file for your divorce, you can’t take it back. This choice will impact your family, especially if you have kids. It can also impact your current financial situation, which could alter your way of life.
Before learning how to prepare for a divorce, think about your marriage. Is there any chance you can save it? You might want to consider alternatives to a divorce, such as a short-term separation.
While you’re separated, you can visit a marriage counselor and try to repair your situation.
Otherwise, talk to someone you know who has worked through a divorce. Did they ever regret the process? How did they know for certain that they were ready for a divorce?
Did they try mending their relationship beforehand? Do they wish they had?
Speaking with someone who has filed for divorce will help you finalize the decision on your own. As you speak with them, make sure to ask all your questions. The answers they provide you could potentially change your mind.
Remember, you can’t take back this decision. Before preparing for a divorce, make sure you’re sure about the choice. If you’ve thought it through and have decided that getting divorced is the best solution, you’ll also need to establish a plan that will help you start fresh once the divorce process is over. For example, you might want to learn how to legally change your name. A simple change like this can help you shake off the burden of your past problems so you can finally start moving forward.
- Check Your Accounts
It’s important to take stock of your financial situation before filing for divorce. Otherwise, you might have a difficult time accessing the information you need, especially if your spouse is upset with the decision.
Ask your spouse if you can discuss your current financial situation. Make sure to learn as much as possible about your financial accounts.
For example, you need to know how much debt you’re in and which debts you need to pay off. Do you have any investments? Consider your monthly expenses, too.
Understanding how much you spend and bring in each month will help as you learn how to prepare for divorce moving forward.
First, take a look at your assets. For example, you might list your home, financial accounts, and vehicles you already own. Will you and your spouse want to split these assets equally?
Next, consider possessions you can’t split, such as artwork and pension plans. Do you have an inheritance you brought into the marriage? What about other possessions?
Make a list of your assets and your spouse’s. You’ll need documented proof about the value of each asset. Who purchased each item?
Next, consider the debts you need to pay and other expenses you owe. Get a copy of your credit report and statements for your open accounts. You’ll need copies of these documents for yourself and your lawyer.
- Craft a Plan
Remember, a divorce will have a long-term impact on your complete life. You’ll want to consider factors such as custody and your living situation. If you’re not employed, how do you plan on paying for your new lifestyle?
Set a budget for yourself. Almost 30% of households have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. Do you have enough in your savings account to keep you going while you file for divorce?
What’s your current cost of living? Once your divorce is finalized, you’ll need to make adjustments.
Take a look at your monthly expenses. Once you know how much you’re spending (and where), you can make a budget for yourself. Knowing how much money you’ll need for your lifestyle will also help you during negotiations.
If you don’t have any credit cards under your name, request one as soon as possible. Then, start establishing your own budget while preparing for a divorce. Make sure to use your credit card sparingly, though.
After all, you don’t want to rake up debt!
- Speak With a Lawyer
You don’t have to work through this process alone. Instead, consider hiring an experienced lawyer who specializes in divorce law. They’ll represent your best interests and help build your case.
There are over 76,000 family law and divorce lawyers in the country. When searching for a lawyer, start by consulting the Martindale-Hubble law directory. This directory will give you short biographies for different lawyers in the area.
You can also check your local bar association website. Make sure the lawyer you’re researching is an active member and licensed to practice law.
As you begin interviewing lawyers, make sure they have the time to take their case. If they’re busy, they might fail to provide the dedicated attention you deserve.
Don’t forget to discuss their fees, too. After all, you want to make sure you can afford them.
Is it possible to win a divorce? Talk to your lawyer and discuss the specifics of your case to find out!
- Strengthen Your Case
In order to help your lawyer build your case, you’ll need documents like your:
- Phone records
- Car documentation
- Financial account records
- Shared account records
In the meantime, stay on your best behavior. Learning how to prepare for divorce is a detailed process. Your lawyer will likely advise you to avoid saying or doing anything that could weaken your case.
For example, you’ll probably want to avoid dating during the duration of the divorce process. If you have kids, make your kids a priority to show the courts you’re a good parent.
These tips for preparing for divorce will help you avoid trouble down the road.
How to Prepare for Divorce: Five Tips for a Smoother Process
Now that you know how to prepare for divorce, make sure to think it through. Remember, you can’t take this decision back. Understanding the process will help you determine whether or not you’re sure about the decision.
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