Sometimes it feels like everyone you know is breaking up, separating or getting divorced. It’s as if everyone got the same memo: the time to make a move is now. You’re anxious to begin divorce proceedings too, but you’re not sure you’re ready to deal with the questions, changes and negotiations coming your way. With this list, you can be.
Let’s start with financial steps
Make sure you know where your important documents are now, so that you can easily access them: old loan applications, current 401K statements, mortgage statements and income tax returns, for example. Anything relating to your net worth is important. Make copies of documents and store them at work or at a friend’s house, just in case things get contentious later on.
Make sure you have your own checking and savings accounts and have established yourself on credit reports. Check your credit report and clear up any discrepancies. If you don’t have a credit card in your own name, then get one now. You’ll need it as you transition to handling money as a single person instead of one-half of a couple. Even something as simple as buying a tank of gas could get difficult if your future ex gets vindictive and hoards or hides assets.
Get a good idea of where you stand, financially. You’ll be dealing with conversations about large amounts of money. If you’re not comfortable with that now, you need to get there-and quickly. Ask yourself questions like: What is my standard of living? What can’t I live without? Make a list and be prepared to advocate for it.
Prepare yourself emotionally
If you don’t already have a support network, begin building one. If you do have one, reach out and let everyone know what’s going on and that you may need extra support in the coming days and weeks. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. Everyone goes through tough times.
Put yourself and your kids first. You might be thinking of how you can make this easier on everyone involved. You may be waiting for the holidays to be over, not wanting to subject your family to the awkward moments a pending divorce would no doubt produce. But waiting will not make the situation better for you or your kids, and that’s what matters.
Look for outlets where you can have fun and blow off steam, whether it’s dinner with friends, a movie with the kids or training to run a 5K. (Or all three.) You need to stay physically and mentally healthy throughout the process.
Lastly, decide who will represent you when you file for divorce. An attorney whose main practice area is family law will be able to present you with the best options for your particular situation.
Initiating a divorce takes emotional energy, courage and financial readiness. You’ll get there-in fact, you may be closer than you think.