Are you going through a very rough marriage? Did you reach the stage where you are seriously considering getting out of it? Then a divorce may be the answer you are looking for.
Studies reveal that 39 percent of marriages in the United States end up in divorce. Though the rate of divorces is down compared to the 1980s, it doesn’t change the fact that the process is a taxing one.
It drains both parties mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.
Thus, you need to learn how to prepare for divorce the right way. But what exactly are the aspects you need to work on?
Continue reading below for some valuable tips for preparing for divorce.
1. How to Prepare for Divorce: It Starts with the Best Process
If you want to know how to prepare for divorce the best way possible, you need to know where to start. Hence, the journey begins by choosing the best process for you and your spouse.
There are plenty of options when it comes to divorce. And what you want to pick is the more peaceful one.
It is a common misconception that the divorce process only goes through litigation. This involves a court battle that can sometimes become vicious for both parties.
However, you can choose to go through the process with only you and your partner working on most of the parts. This is doable if you have a simple case.
Also, you can consider mediating your divorce. This is an alternative resolution process that involves a professional mediator. Take note that this mediator does not have to be a lawyer.
But what he needs to be is someone neutral, impartial, and caring for both parties. In essence, the mediator helps resolve your case without having to go to court.
If you are unsure of which route to take, it is wise to consult a lawyer that you trust.
2. Organize Your Records
Next, you need to organize yourself starting with your records. This covers everything that involves your finances. Also, you want to prepare all the legal documents that you will use in the divorce process.
First, you want to organize all documents concerning your income. These include your paycheck stubs. Make sure the stubs come from all employment sources you had over the past year.
If you are self-employed, prepare your income tax returns, as well as any other business forms concerning your income. This also covers documents from businesses where you and your spouse have an interest in for the last three years.
You also need to prepare the paycheck stubs of your spouse. The stubs should cover the same period as yours.
Moreover, organize your documents regarding all business expenses. These include all bank statements, check registers, and financial statements. The same thing goes for canceled checks, as well as profit and loss statements.
Do the same for you and your spouse’s joint or individual tax returns. Throw in copies of check ledgers and statements of net worth.
On the real estate side of things, prepare your mortgage statements, tax assessor’s statements, and documents of the legal description of your real estate.
Also, you want to open a P.O. Box. This is crucial especially if your spouse has no idea that you are looking to file a divorce. This ensures that you will receive all mail and correspondences from your lawyer.
3. Find a Divorce Attorney
If your marriage is full of tension and mediation is impossible, you need to find a good lawyer. When searching for a Divorce Lawyer, you want to do this before filing any of your paperwork. You want your attorney to go over all the key documents first.
A good divorce attorney can give you a better view of your marital estate. Furthermore, he can help you develop a solid settlement strategy that will leave you smiling at the end of the day.
As you search for the right lawyer, make sure to go for one who can provide sympathy and guidance. Yes, the end goal is to reach a settlement that will give you what is rightfully yours. But the process leaves new wounds.
Hence, you want a lawyer who sympathizes with your feelings. And at the same time, you want someone who will fight for you, no matter what.
To begin your search, start by asking for referrals. Talk to some of your trusted friends who went through a divorce. Ask what they can say about how their lawyer handled their case.
You also want to talk to several lawyers first before finalizing your decision. Schedule appointments with different attorneys. Let them know that you’re also talking to others.
Ask relevant questions about your case. Don’t hesitate to inquire about how they bill their clients. If many people will work on your case, ask how much each of them will charge.
4. Prepare Your Funding
Now that you have an idea about the cost of getting a divorce, you can start building up your funding. This is paramount especially for wives whose husbands control their family’s finances.
If your husband controls access to the family’s funds, you will have a hard time tapping to these resources. You may not be able to hire the right professionals on your side. It will also affect your day-to-day expenses.
When this happens, your husband can squeeze you financially. In turn, it may lead to agreeing to a lopsided settlement in favor of your husband.
There are different ways to build up your cash reserves. But first, never attempt to poach money from your shared accounts. Even if you have access to the money, you will eventually close it and divide the money depending on the settlement.
If you take all the money, your spouse may think you stole them.
When it comes to your credit card, don’t rely on it to fund your divorce. Expenses can go up quickly and you don’t want those high-interest rates to eat you whole. Instead, consider borrowing money from other viable sources.
You can try applying for a personal loan from your bank. You can also loan from your 401(k). If you have relatives who have money to spare, don’t hesitate to ask them for assistance.
5. Open New Accounts
You also need to open new accounts and a new line of credit. Make sure to open these accounts in a different bank.
Your lawyer may also advise you to withdraw half of the total amount of your joint account. Whatever amount you can withdraw, transfer all of it to your new account. The rule of thumb is to reserve enough money that will cover you over the next two months.
As for the remaining money, keep them in your new account.
Never keep your money in time accounts. You want to be as liquid as possible during the whole duration of the divorce procedure.
But before you open new accounts under your name, make sure to close any joint credit cards and other accounts that you share with your spouse.
6. Secure Your Credit Report
Another important part of your preparations is to secure a copy of your credit report. Get several copies of the report and resolve existing disputes, ASAP.
Go over the details of your credit report. Keep an eye out for dubious purchases. You will never know if your spouse is spending the money on his or her new partner.
7. Update Your Will and Beneficiaries
If you have a living will, don’t forget to update it. Since you will likely not want to give anything to your spouse, you need to strike off his portion from your will.
The same thing goes for your medical directives. You don’t want your spouse to make medical decisions without your knowledge.
And if you have insurance, make sure to change the beneficiaries. Do the same thing for your IRAs.
Also, you need to divide your retirement plan assets. This can be tricky so you may need the help of your lawyer. The goal is to not have your spouse inherit all your assets when something happens to you in the middle of the divorce procedure.
9. Mind Your Integrity
Regardless of how bitter you are feeling toward your spouse, protect your integrity. Sometimes, the other party will attempt to get the best of you and make you lose your focus at the expense of your integrity and character.
You want to stay low-key when it comes to your divorce. Hence, avoid posting anything on social media concerning the case. Don’t rant or vent out on Facebook even if you’re not name-dropping anyone.
Instead, focus on caring for yourself and your children. Keep yourself busy by balancing your work, personal life, and divorce.
And don’t forget to exercise.
Live Through Divorce and Beyond
Divorce is one of the toughest ordeals one can go through, as it impacts your present and future life. But if you know how to prepare for divorce, the process becomes more manageable. And since it’s the first step to living a new life, you need to learn how to live through and beyond it.
We invite you to read our other articles on family life and relationships. We discuss topics that help people restart their lives after ending a bad marriage.