Things to Do Before Getting a Divorce

Divorce is a life-changing decision, so it’s essential to think carefully about how you want to end your marriage. Are you prepared to make a change for the better? Use the following advice to begin the divorce process more confidently and comprehensively.

Do Your Research

If you’ve been stuck in a bad marriage for a long time, you might be eager to escape it without considering what your post-divorce life will be like. To avoid making any hasty decisions, it’s essential first to get a firm grasp of the financial, legal, and personal stakes involved:

  • How does (the city or state) decide who gets custody of the kids?
  • To what end will your property, savings, and retirement accounts be put?
  • What steps can you take to fix your future?
  • How can I protect my mental health during the divorce process?

Find the right experts to help you answer these questions that are relevant to your situation. You should speak with an attorney specializing in family law to understand your legal position and potential next steps. Depending on your specific situation, you may also benefit from meeting with a therapist and an accountant during this early stage of divorce preparation.

Get Your Act Together

You should get a notebook and separate the pages into three categories: legal, financial, and emotional. Remember to take notes as you consult with the skilled members of your team. You’ll be taking in a lot of new material quickly, so writing some letters down will help you retain it. If you want to feel more in control of your life, having a notebook (that you hide away from prying eyes!) is not the answer. 

Improve your divorce skills by picking up these tips. Use your phone’s Notes app or record voice memos if that works better. Make sure there is no digital connection between your phone and your partner’s before getting intimate (via a cloud service or shared ID, for example).

Invest in a good calendar system (on paper or via a co-parenting app) to help you and your soon-to-be ex keep track of parenting time if you have children and need to co-parent.

Get Your Finances in Order

If your partner has been the primary financial decision-maker up until now, you should train yourself to do so. Spending must be monitored, a monthly budget created, and long-term plans for retirement and savings established. Your lawyer will first ask you to compile a complete set of financial records, including tax returns, bank statements, brokerage account statements, and credit card bills. To see a complete list of what to gather for your divorce finances, check out our handy checklist!

Get your hands on some of these as soon as possible if you can’t seem to find them. Consult an attorney to determine a rough estimate of your spousal and child support obligations and entitlements. One of the most important things you can do for yourself before, during, and after a divorce is to establish a system for managing your finances.

Initiate Divorce on Solid Ground

The tone for the rest of your divorce will be set by how you begin it. 

Avoid making any divorce-related blunders, including hiring a “shark lawyer” who is too aggressive during the process. Divorcing while represented by a combative attorney is a surefire recipe for a drawn-out legal battle that will drain your resources and leave you and your children emotionally and financially drained. 

To that end, you should give some serious thought to how you want to initiate the process and hire an attorney with care. A quick and inexpensive divorce is more likely if you can maintain a civil demeanor from the start of the process. You don’t have to be on good terms with your ex if you’re going through a “low conflict” divorce. 

It simply means that you and your spouse are ready to put aside your feelings and approach the divorce as a business transaction. Click here to learn more about the positive aspects of a divorce with minimal conflict.

Figure Out How to Deal With Pressure

Our sympathetic nervous system can go into four modes when we perceive danger: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn (over-accommodating to avoid conflict). Recognizing your default reaction pattern is the first step toward altering undesirable actions. Maintaining a “fight” mindset can lead to reckless behavior, so learning to de-escalate is essential. 

Fawners need to learn to stand up for themselves or risk being trampled by more dominant partners. Learning how to self-regulate and function well after a divorce can be accomplished by consulting a therapist, engaging in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or following one of the many other stress-reduction strategies available.

Finally, as you prepare for your divorce, remember that you should rely only on the advice of qualified experts. You shouldn’t take advice from your best friend’s cousin, who got divorced ten years ago in another state, or from any other layperson. If you’ve concluded that a divorce is in your future, it’s vital to seek the guidance of professionals.