Preparing for Divorce: The Top 10 Tips You’ve Got to Know - Part 1
The more you prepare for your divorce, the more you increase your chances of getting the outcome you want. Plus, the more you prepare yourself for your divorce, the more time and money you are likely to save in the divorce process.
Here are 5 of the most important tips you will need to prepare for divorce as effectively as possible. We'll examine 5 more next week.
1. Deal with Your Emotions First. Emotions drive divorce. Period. They drive every argument. They fuel every court battle. And they cause most of the pain.
The more you allow your emotions to run wild, the more likely your divorce will spin out of control.
Of course, controlling your emotions while you’re going through a divorce is no easy task. Divorce is hugely emotional. No matter what you do, you’re going to lose it sometimes.
But, the more you can learn to keep your emotions in check, the less drama you will experience in your divorce.
Because of that, the smartest thing you can do is to start getting a handle on your emotions as soon as divorce becomes a possibility in your life.
Get yourself a therapist or a divorce coach, or join a divorce support group, as soon as possible. Waiting until you have a complete emotional melt-down before you get help is guaranteed to make your divorce more difficult to manage..
2. Get Organized & Collect Documents. Divorce is a document-driven process. You are going to need to put together a small mountain of financial information in order to get through your divorce. (Sorry!)
You’re going to need to gather your income tax returns, W-2 forms, paycheck stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, and tons of other documents.
What’s more, it’s not going to be enough to just dump those documents in a pile on your attorney’s desk. You’ve got to get all your documents organized too.
The more you can organize your financial information for your attorney, the less money you will have to spend to have your attorney organize that information for you.
Of course, when you’re going through a divorce, focusing on anything takes longer. Focusing on organizing financial documents (especially if you weren’t the one who handled the family finances) is even more challenging.
That’s why getting organized in advance is so critically important. The more organized you can be going into your divorce, the more grief you will save yourself during your divorce.
3. Invest in Your Education. The divorce process is not user-friendly. It’s complicated and difficult. It doesn’t work the way most people think that it works.
The more you know about divorce before you start your divorce process, the easier it’s likely to go. But, getting the education you need can be challenging.
First you need to learn about the divorce process itself, as well as the choices you have today for getting through your divorce. Those choices include mediation, litigation, arbitration, and Collaborative Divorce.
Then you’re going to need to learn how you can get yourself ready for whatever process you choose.
You’ll also need to know the basics about how finances work in a divorce. That includes understanding how property is divided in divorce, as well as how child support and spousal support (a/ka/ alimony) are set in your state.
If that sounds like a lot … it is! Thankfully, you don’t need to get everything figured out all at once. You also don’t need to know all the answers BEFORE you start your divorce.
At the same time, while you don’t need to become an expert in everything in order to be prepared for your divorce, knowing as much as you can will help you in a big way.
4. Understand Your Finances If you don’t want to end up behind the financial eight ball after your divorce you must understand how money works BEFORE you start the divorce process.
That means that you need to get comfortable working with numbers. If that thought scares you, it’s time to get over it. (Sorry to be harsh!)
Like it or not, divorce involves money. Not understanding how money works (and not taking the time to learn!) is the single quickest way to get completely screwed over in your divorce.
You can’t divide your assets unless you know what you have and what you owe.
You won’t know whether you will be able to survive after your divorce, unless you understand much money you will have coming in after your divorce, and what will be going out.
If dealing with numbers has never been your thing, that’s okay. You don’t need to get a degree in higher math just to make it through your divorce. But you do need to start learning the basics of personal finance asap.
5. Make A Financial Plan
Understanding your finances is step one in preparing for divorce. Having a financial plan for your post-divorce future is step two.
Miss either one of those steps and your post-divorce finances are not likely to be pretty.
A basic financial plan requires you to create two things: A budget, and a balance sheet.
Depending upon how complicated your finances are, you may be able to create both of those documents yourself.
If your finances are complicated, working with a divorce financial planner can be an enormous help. S/he can help you create a basic financial plan. A good financial planner can also help you create financial projections to show you how long your money will last, and how much you need to save to meet your future financial needs.
Many financial planners also work as financial investors. So, after they have helped you create a solid financial plan, they can also help you invest your money so that you achieve your financial goals.