Ending a marriage is a major step; once you go through with your divorce, life as you know if will change forever. You will need to consider your living situation post-divorce, the kind of relationship you want with your (soon-to-be) ex-spouse, the children, and numerous other areas. Here are some essential steps you should take when preparing for a divorce:
Set up an Email Folder Specifically for Divorce Correspondence
This may seem like a small step, but it is one many divorcing spouses overlook. During the emotional turmoil, it is easy to lose track of important electronic correspondence related to the process, which can make things far more difficult. To
prevent this from happening, open a separate email account for divorce-related correspondence; or at the very least, set up a dedicated folder within your current account. Be sure to organize the rest of your electronic exchanges, such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. in a place where everything is easily accessible.
Take Inventory of your Financial Assets and Household Items
During a divorce, all marital property is supposed to be divided fairly and equitably. For this reason, it is best to have a full updated listing of all your financial assets (e.g. real estate, investments, 401Ks, businesses, etc.) as well as household property such as furniture, jewelry, artwork and automobiles. Once you understand exactly what you have, it will give you a much better idea of what will become part of the equitable distribution.
Organize your Financial Paperwork
Another part of the divorce negotiations will be the potential for alimony/spousal support. To know where you stand in this regard, you will need to know exactly what both you and your spouse earns. In addition, gather bank statements and the last three years of tax returns to validate what you and your spouse earn.
Take Steps toward Financial Independence
Take an accounting of all of your bank accounts and credit cards. Understand how much money you will realistically need to live once you are on your own. Begin to research how much an apartment and utilities will cost on a monthly basis. The more information you have the better prepared you will be to move out on your own when the time comes.
Think about the Children
Children are resilient, but divorce can still be very hard on them. However, if you put some time and thought into what kind of custody/visitation arrangement is best for them, it will be much easier to express your thoughts when you are in the thick of an emotional divorce. Think about who should have custody of the kids (and why), what school you want them to attend, etc. and write down your ideas before you move forward.
Decide how you want to handle the Divorce Proceedings
These days, divorcing spouses have more options than ever before. If you have an abusive spouse and/or you are on very bad terms, traditional divorce litigation might be the only path forward. However, if you and your spouse still have a reasonably good relationship, you may be a good candidate for divorce mediation.
With divorce mediation, couples can resolve all the issues associated with the marriage dissolution through the guidance of an objective mediator. Unlike litigation, mediation is far less adversarial, and by working together toward win-win solutions, couples are often able to develop creative settlements that benefit everyone involved. Keep in mind you do not have to totally agree on everything to benefit from mediation; you just need to have an open mind and a willingness to work together toward a reasonable settlement that is in the best interests of all parties involved.