Divorce isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Even if the situation is ugly, you don’t want to act too rashly. Take your time and get things lined up properly before you step into the process of divorce. It won’t be easy, but if you go in with eyes wide open, you’ll fare much better in the end.
Make Sure You Really Want the Divorce
If you’re seriously considering divorce, things are obviously bad in your marriage. But is there any chance at reconciliation? If you think there is, wait. Once a divorce is in motion, it’s difficult to go back on your decision.
Find the Right Attorney
If divorce truly is the best option, your next step should be to be find a good experienced divorce attorney. Divorce waters are tricky to navigate. You need someone who understands the process, who’s been successful before, and most importantly – someone who will be committed to your best interests throughout the process.
Be sure to find an attorney with several years of experience in family law.
Understand Your Financials
You need to understand two important aspects of your financials: your assets and your debts.
When organizing your assets, think through the less obvious assets, like pension plans, inheritances, and so on. Get a copy of your credit report to completely understand your debts. You’ll need financial documents for everything. Get the originals, or make copies and keep an organized file.
Don’t spend recklessly during this time. If you’re worried your spouse will clean out the joint bank account, establish a separate bank account for yourself and take half of the money from your shared accounts. Don’t be sneaky about this though, and remember to act only on the advice of your divorce attorney.
Gather Income Information
Gather the most recent pay stubs of both you and your spouse, as well as your most recent tax return. If one or both of you is self-employed, you’ll need to gather proof of income through bank statements and financial business statements.
You’ll also need to know how much you’ll need each month to live after the divorce. This knowledge will help in the settlement process.
Plan for Custody Issues
If you have children, custody is going to be on the table. Unless there is abuse, both spouses deserve to have a form of custody, so start planning mentally to enter into a shared child custody arrangement.
Decide Whether or Not to Move
Unless there is abuse, moving out of the house is typically a bad idea. If you leave and your spouse continues to pay the mortgage, the judge may factor that into the property distribution. And if you have children, remaining in the home will help your case in any custody battle that may be coming.
If you really need to move out though, try to continue to pay half of the mortgage, but don’t make a move without first discussing it with your attorney.
Take Care of Yourself
A divorce is stressful and wearing. Do your best to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and spend time with friends and family who love you. Don’t party or start new romances. If you have children, stay in their lives as much as possible.
With the right attorney and support system, you’ll make it through this difficult time with the best outcome possible.