I am often asked by potential clients what he or she can do to get ready for divorce before they are actually ready to push that button. Here are 6 things you can do to better prepare for your divorce:
1. Marriage Counseling:
Any couple contemplating divorce might benefit from counseling, if both parties are committed to trying to make counseling work. If marriage counseling is not successful, you may be able to switch from marriage counseling to divorce counseling. If a counselor can help you and your spouse remain civil while you work on a settlement, you will save money ,as well as aggravation. A good therapist might also be the key to helping you and your husband or wife work out a parenting plan for your children without a lot of attorney and court intervention.
2. Arm Yourself with Knowledge:
I tell my clients to arm themselves with as much knowledge about the divorce process as possible. If you are contemplating divorce, you may want to set up a few preliminary interviews with family law attorneys in your area to learn what you can expect if you do go forward with the divorce. During an initial consultation, the family law attorney that you meet with should be able to help you expand on the check list that I am providing for you here based upon your specific facts and circumstances.
3. Create A To-Do List:
Your “To-Do List” should be a list of information you want to gather to aid you in your divorce action. The list should also include specific tasks you want to accomplish before filing. A sample “To-Do List” might include the following:
– Gather financial information, such as bank records, financial net worth statements, tax returns and credit card statements.
– Take care of any pressing medical and dental needs.
– Begin counseling for yourself and for your child if you think your child might need counseling in general or to deal with the divorce.
– Open your own credit card and/or bank account.
– Gather any evidence that may impact your settlement, i.e. your spouse’s affair and find a safe place to store the information.
– Remove any valuables or other personal items from the house if you are worried about them.
– If you have minor children, you will need their social security numbers in order to file for divorce.
– Get your spouse’s driver’s license and social security number.
– If you are worried about your credit, pull your credit report.
-If you have met with a divorce attorney, he or she should have given you some direction regarding a more specific task list that is geared towards your specific facts and circumstances.
4. Set Aside Some Money:
Divorce can be expensive. Therefore, in order to prepare for divorce, it is wise to set aside some money for an attorney and, if necessary, expert fees in advance.
5. Make A Plan:
You may not be able to control the actions of your husband or wife, but you can control yourself. Change, even positive change, is scary and divorce may initially be one of the scariest changes a person can make in their life. However, if you are in a bad situation with no relief in sight, divorce may be your best option. If you are not entirely ready to file divorce papers, give yourself a deadline. Basically, figure out what needs to happen in your relationship to make the marriage work. For instance, in order to continue to work on the marriage, you may insist that you and your spouse try couples’ therapy. If your spouse has an addiction, you may decide you are willing to continue to work on salvaging the marriage if he/she enters a treatment program. Whatever the case may be, do set a deadline that you are comfortable with and take action accordingly. By making a plan and setting a deadline, you are taking control of your life. The experience will prove empowering.
6. Don’t take the Bait:
Everyone knows that divorce brings out the worst in people. If it appears that divorce is eminent, assume that everything you put in writing, even before the filing, can become a potential exhibit in your divorce case. Therefore, do not bash your spouse through avenues such as Facebook, Twitter or via text messages. I always tell my clients – DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT. Rise above your husband or wife’s bad behavior, which will be frowned upon by your judge. This is especially true if you have children.
Although it may be hard to see at the moment, remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.