Tips on how to prepare for a divorce
Some Useful Tips for How to Prepare for Divorce Financially and Emotionally:
1. Choose a More Peaceful Divorce Option.
When it comes to divorce, you’ve got plenty of choices.
You can litigate and battle it out in court. If you have a simple case, you can try to do it yourself. You can collaborate and pay half a dozen people to intervene in the process. Or you can mediate your divorce.
Take the time upfront to do your homework and research all of the available options. Then, choose the one that’s most likely to keep your divorce as peaceful as possible.
2. Get Organized.
During the divorce process, you’ll need to make hundreds of significant decisions that will affect you and your children for years to come. And the more organized you are, the better the quality your negotiations (and resulting settlement agreement) will be.
If you choose a competent professional to guide you through your proceedings, they’ll take you through a thorough discovery process to help with how to financially prepare for divorce negotiations that will follow. But some advanced planning financially before you start your divorce also can go a long way.
Work with your spouse to make a list of assets and debts and begin gathering copies of all financial records such as: your most recent federal and state tax returns, W2’s, pay stubs, bank accounts statements, brokerage accounts statements, credit card statements, insurance policies, retirement accounts, mortgage statements, car loan statements, etc.
Create a marital budget so you can get an understanding of what your current monthly expenses living together are as well as what your projected monthly expenses will be after you’re divorced and living in separate households.
It’s not necessary (and can be unwise) to start negotiating the issues without the help of a qualified professional – all you’re doing at this point is getting organized and preparing for divorce financially (preparing for the discovery phase of the divorce process).
3. Take responsibility.
Divorce can be so overwhelming that it might be tempting to just crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head and pretend it isn’t happening. But I’m sure you’re smart to know that won’t solve or change anything.
Don’t be a passive observer of your own divorce – this is your divorce so take control of the process. Listen to your chosen divorce professional, but be prepared to make your own decisions.
The best way to get through a divorce is to take an active role in the process, even if you are not the initiator. You will reach a better settlement and your divorce will likely take less time, be less stressful and cost less money.
4. Get Support.
It’s important to remember that no matter how isolated you may feel, you are not alone.
Recognize that there are sources of divorce support that you can leverage to help you sort through the menagerie of feelings you’re experiencing and learn how to deal with them in a healthy and constructive way.
When you can control your emotions, you can better prepare yourself for your divorce negotiations and approach them with a calm, level head.
5. Stay in your integrity.
No matter how angry or betrayed you might feel or no matter how much your spouse may be pressing your buttons, do not let him/her get the best of you and take you out of your integrity.
Stay off social media and resist venting details of your divorce to anyone who will listen. Don’t badmouth your spouse to the kids or your family (even if he/she is badmouthing you to them).
Rise above, bite your tongue, take a deep breath (or a hundred of them) and be the bigger person.
As difficult as it might seem, you need to focus on taking care of yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually so you can be in a better position to make conscious decisions about your future with a calm, clear, rational head.
Make every effort to help yourself not let your divorce ruin the rest of your life.
If you need help with how to cope with divorce, get yourself a good therapist, exercise, meditate, eat healthily, try to get enough sleep and surround yourself with positive people. Make a to-do list and do whatever you can to boost your energy and stay authentic and at your best.
Be kind to yourself and don’t let yourself become a victim to your circumstances. There’s no doubt divorce is a very painful event, but it will only define you if you let it.
6. Focus on The Big Picture.
The last tip on preparing for a divorce is to stay focused on the big picture.
The decisions you’ll need to make during the divorce process will affect you and your children for years to come, so don’t get bogged down in fighting over semantics or trying to be right.
Nobody wins in a divorce, but if you focus on what’s most important, like the kids and your future, instead of the painful past, you’ll have a much better chance of not only divorcing amicably but achieving a settlement you can feel comfortable with.
Many people think divorce is a legal matter.
And to a certain extent, it is. After all, a divorce must be filed with the courts in order for it to be granted.
But when you really take a closer look at what exactly happens in a divorce, you’ll learn that divorce is less about the law and more about negotiation and money.
There are very few specific formulas that outline exactly who gets what in a divorce.
So it’s going to be up to you and your spouse to negotiate a financial settlement you both find fair and equitable.
Given that everyone’s situation is unique, it would be impossible to list every last issue you need to be thinking about. But here are five questions you should be asking yourself and thinking about before you start a divorce. This way, it will help you plan for what lies ahead.
5 Key Considerations When Preparing for Divorce Financially:
Question #1: Are you currently making ends meet?
There’s a common misconception that divorce creates income.
But in reality, all it does is create an expense.
When you separate your lives, you’ll now have two of everything. Two housing payments, two utility bills, two health insurance policies, etc.
You’ll also lose those volume discounts you get when you’re married such as the multi-car discount on your auto insurance or the family share plan for your cell phones.
If you find yourself carrying credit card balances month-to-month, you need to think about how that’s going to play out once you’re divorced. Are the balances on your cards from a one-time expense that you just didn’t have the cash on hand for?
Or are you using credit to supplement your day-to-day living expenses?
If it’s the former, you may be able to simply pay that off and move on. But if you’re using credit to supplement your income, moving forward with a divorce is only going to make a tight situation tighter.
All of these items need to be documented and negotiated if you’re going to come to any kind of agreement on alimony. And the foundation for coming to an agreement on this difficult topic is what each of your expenses is post-divorce and for how long you need support for those expenses.
There are very few formulas surrounding alimony in the United States.
It all comes down to negotiation.
While you’re preparing for divorce, you’ll want to be sure to choose a divorce option that emphasizes negotiation over bullying such as divorce mediation.
Question #2 to ask yourself when preparing for divorce financially: Do you want to stay in the house?
Staying in the house for the children’s sake is an emotional decision all parents grapple with. I know my mom did when I was a kid and my parents were preparing for divorce.
In addition to having to pay the mortgage utility bills, you need to think about and be honest with yourself about your ability and desire to pay for house upkeep and maintenance.
- What does it cost to maintain the yard? If you hire people to do this work for you, it can really add up.
- How old is the roof, driveway, siding and/or shingles? These are significant repairs that can cost $10,000 – $30,000 to replace.
- How old is your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, etc? These are major repairs that can run in the $2,000 – $10,000 range.
- Do any appliances need a placement any time soon? Dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, etc. can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Sure, you may be able to scrape by paying the mortgage, but what if something goes wrong?
Can you afford to stay in the house?
And what will staying the house and struggling to make ends meet due to your ability to retire or pay for your children’s college education?
Once you start your divorce, be sure to enlist the help of a neutral-third party divorce mediator who can take a critical look at these expenses and help you determine if staying in the house makes sense and is a possibility in your particular situation.
Question #3: How stable is your job? How stable is your husband’s (or wife’s) job?
The social contract between employers and employees has changed significantly over the years.
It used to be that you could keep your job for life if you wanted to.
These days, it seems that you can be let go for any number of reasons without warning. And if you lose your job, there goes your financial safety net.
If you and your husband or wife need both of your incomes to make ends meet, you’ll want to think about the stability of both of your jobs.
If there’s any fear of lay-offs for either of you, you may choose to postpone your divorce. Like the old saying goes about not being able to get blood from a stone, true also is you can’t get child support or alimony from an unemployed ex-husband.
So if you’ll be relying on support after the divorce, you’ll want to be sure that, at least to the best of your knowledge, his job is going to be stable for the foreseeable future.
And as previously mentioned in #1 above, there are very few specific formulas around alimony.
So when it does come time to discuss this issue, not only is the amount and duration subject to negotiation but so are the conditions by which alimony can be suspended or terminated.
An expert divorce mediation team will make sure all known possibilities are discussed and agreed upon.
Question #4 to ask yourself when preparing for divorce financially: What will your new life cost?
Whether it’s you or your husband who pays the monthly bills, don’t get caught off guard with the cost of living.
Say you’ve been living in your house for the past 10 years and have no idea what a three-bedroom apartment might cost. Or that cable and Internet can run a family like yours $300+ a month. All of it adds up.
Take some time before you divorce and research what your living expenses post-divorce might be.
This will serve you well.
Many people are caught off guard when they discover that the child support and alimony they’re going to receive won’t fully cover their bills.
Remember item #1 above? If you’re just scraping by now, you may not be able to make ends meet after you divorce unless you can increase income or reduce expenses.
Once your divorce starts, having a neutral third-party mediator look at both of your expense profiles and identify ways to save on expenses can free up income to help support yourself and your children as you embark on your lives apart.
Question #5: What will the actual divorce cost you?
While this may not seem like a financial issue, it absolutely is.
How you proceed with your divorce, and ultimately what it will cost you, is a major financial consideration when preparing for divorce.
Couples who can put their differences aside and mediate their divorce for the benefit of their children will spend far less and keep divorce costs in check than if they hired family-law attorneys and litigated.
The more you spend on your divorce, the less money you’ll have to care for your children and start your new life.
Because divorce is more about negotiation and money, mediation is a far better forum to resolve these critical issues.
Instead of your divorce becoming a war with a devastating price tag, it can be a cost-effective negotiation between the very two people whose lives will be impacted by the settlement: you and your spouse.
Benefits to preparing for divorce financially.
Focusing on the financial considerations will not only help you with how to prepare for divorce but will also help you make better choices during the process.
And increase your ability to secure your financial future.
Blog Source: Equitable Mediation |