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How to Prepare for Divorce? | 5 Tips to Get You Safely Prepared and Ready for this Turbulent Time

Uncategorized Apr 16, 2019

The painful choice to pursue a divorce often feels like no choice at all. It can seem like you either pursue this harrowing path or lose what individuality and potential for happiness you have left.  

Once divorce begins to seriously float around in your head, all of the obstacles that stand between you and leaving your marriage loom large.  So large that in many cases it can take staying put for a while before you act.  

The following tips below can help you figure out how to prepare for divorce and help you get clarity on how to break through this obstacle.

Divorce Prep Tip #1 - Enroll at least one trusted confidant to help you prepare both emotionally and physically for the journey ahead.   

Look for confidants with the following characteristics:

  • They consistently refocus you on what you are saying and doing in the present, not what you or your spouse has said or done in the past.  
  • They protect you by keeping conversations confidential.   
  • They support you to separate fears from facts.  
  • They are inventive when it comes to helping you to identify resources.
  • They talk you through your options so you can make considered choices when you finally begin hiring the divorce support team you feel is warranted.
  • They listen to you without judgment, of you OR your spouse.
  • They comfort and encourage you when your energy or clarity lags, supporting you to determine your next moves on your schedule, not theirs.
  • They remind you to take care of yourself (healthy food, sleep, exercise, meditation, etc.) and discourage unhealthy behaviors (drinking, drugging, binge shopping, etc.).  

Your confidant can be invaluable to keep you from falling into many of the self-destructive and inflammatory behaviors that compound divorce and make it more painful and expensive than need be.  

Eventually, you will add professionals to your all-star divorce team; an attorney, a financial advisor, and a Divorce Coach.

Note: A divorce coach is non-judgemental and offers a healthy sounding board which, if enlisted early on, can save you an immense amount of emotional suffering and financial expense.  

Divorce Prep Tip #2 - Educate yourself about the divorce laws in your state/country.  

Knowing the basic legal facts about divorce in your state/country allows you to understand what is realistic and what is not so you don’t fall for an attorney or friend who encourages you to take actions that will be extensive, expensive, and yield little or nothing other than additional stress.  

Using neutral websites that provide information rather than those trying to sell you services are the best sources for the most up-to-date information on divorce and dissolving civil unions. Look for info on:

  • Residency and Filing Requirements
  • Grounds for filing
  • Property Distribution Laws
  • Spousal Support (mmaintenance/alimony Considerations
  • Shared Parenting / Child Custody Considerations
  • Child Support Guidelines    

Researching these topics will give you a greater understanding of what you can anticipate going forward.  Being educated provides you a foundation from which to eventually interview and choose an attorney and develop an understanding that will allow you to dismiss rather than react to baseless threats your spouse may make in the frey of emotion.  

Divorce Prep Tip #3 - Get your financial house in order.

If there is one thing you can count on during a divorce it is that you (as well as your spouse) will need to gather and produce a significant amount of detailed financial information on what you have, owe and spend.  To begin, start locating and collecting the following:

Copies of tax returns for the previous 3-5 years (you can request these from the IRS without your spouse’s permission or knowledge)

  • Documents needed to complete a financial affidavit (often referred to as a ‘Net Worth’ form include:
    • All sources of income
    • Household expenses,
    • Debts:  including credit cards, mortgages, loans, leases, etc
    • Assets: including bank accounts, retirement funds, brokerage accounts, pensions, etc.
    • Property holdings

While these documents are particularly important in contested divorces, even in an uncontested settlement you will be more certain of it’s fairness by basing the agreement on these financial documents.

Divorce Prep Tip #4 - Assume responsibility for your life, one situation at a time starting now.   

The challenges of leaving a marriage are significant, without doubt, yet the rewards of freeing yourself from an unhealthy relationship are even more significant.  These rewards are easier to reap if you begin preparing for your exit in advance.

It is useful to determine what you will need on your divorce journey and begin collecting those things before you hit the road.  Make a list of the things you will be doing for yourself once you are divorced, things that you currently do not know how to do because your spouse has been handling them.  

  • Are you familiar with the finances of running a household?  If not, who do you know who could begin to familiarize you with the “how to” from paying bills to following your credit cards and bank accounts to filing taxes?  
  • Next time you call in an electrician find out where your breaker box is and work with him/her to label all the breakers clearly.  Same with the plumber, find out where your water main is and how to shut it off if there is an issue.
  • Create a list of all of your service people (both trade and professional) so you have the resources you need once you are flying solo.  Ask questions. Be willing to learn. Knowledge is power.
  • If your spouse has been the sole earner in the family begin looking at your skills and which could be used to create income as you become more and more independent of your spouse’s income.  If you have been a secondary earner how could you maximize your income over time?

These tasks are not brain science. Your fears of not being capable rob you of more energy than it takes to begin understanding how to become capable.  Remember, you do not have to be capable overnight.  Being capable is a process of exposure and practice.  

Divorce Prep Tip #5 - Put the psychological health of your children before your understandable pain.

Whatever reasons you have for divorcing, with forethought and consideration you can eliminate the unnecessary divorce fallout that can damage the psychological well-being of your children. Adhere to what has come to be known as the “Children’s Bill of Rights”.  While there are a number of versions most contain the following:

  1. The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval.
  2. The right to be protected from your parents' anger with each other.
  3. The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents' conflicts, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.
  4. The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
  5. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents' emotional problems.
  6. The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried.
  7. The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and throughout your college years.
  8. The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel.
  9. The right to have a life that is as close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together.
  10. The right to be a kid.

Once your spouse knows of your choice to divorce or you know of his/hers, it is worthwhile to share the Children’s Bill of Rights with each other.  Agreeing to support your children’s well-being is a good place to start. Of course, if your spouse has deep psychological issues acting in line with these rights may be impossible for him/her. If so, at least one of you will be supporting their well-being which is infinitely more helpful than no one doing so.  It will pay off for you and for them.

 

Divorce is never easy.  Preparing yourself well before you initiate or as soon as you know it is inevitable will make it considerably easier than walking in blind.  It’s one step at a time. You choose what to focus on first and go for it one day at a time.

To be supported through this journey join our JBD Membership Community where you have access to our 12 Step Divorce Recovery Program along with dozens of programs that educate and guide you through the legal, financial, parenting and post-divorce challenges plus access to a community of peers where you can get and give support.  Sign up here.



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