Divorce prep 101
Divorce, even just the prospect of a divorce, is intimidating and incurs so many changes; being prepared for everything is hard, but not impossible. So, when people ask me what they need to do if they are preparing for a divorce I tell them what I think is most important: Finances.
Of course, there is a lot more to get into and prepare for, but making sure you have access to funds in a separate account that is not accessible to your spouse is so important. Not everyone handles divorce well, and if you don’t have access to money, it is going to make the entire procedure that much harder. So, start putting money aside into individual accounts to ensure you both will have the funds you need to start this process and sustain your life. I also suggest that you make sure you have a clear understanding of you and your spouse’s financial picture. By that I mean, you are going to want to find bank statements, past taxes and any information you can related to your spouse’s actual earnings. Too often I see people who didn’t prepare before filing and then get stuck paying legal fees to get all this information after the fact. So, doing it beforehand, or while you still have the ability to is highly recommended.
I also suggest looking for an attorney now. I know, I know, of course the lawyer is going to tell you it is important to have a lawyer, but divorcee to future divorcee, it really is. Attorney client privilege is something that is very important throughout the divorce, so you want to make sure you have someone you can trust, count on, and know is giving you the best advice for you and your situation. Too often people wait until the last second, when they’ve already gotten served or have a pending court date, to make that decision and get rushed into making it; often picking someone out of convenience rather than review. So, if you think a divorce is coming, no matter who is filing, start the search now and find somebody who will really work for you and is everything that YOU need in an attorney.
Thirdly, and this only applies if you have children, start looking at each other’s schedules, keep track of yours and their availability and responsibilities when it comes to parenting. Like who takes the kids to school, who makes dinner, who takes the kids to soccer practice, helps with homework, etc. Because one way or another, you will find yourself being a single parent at home and need to prepare yourself for the added responsibilities that you more than likely will have to take on, and figuring out how to easily transition from a two-parent household to one. It is not by any means an easy task, and there will be a lot of things that change around your house, no matter how much you try to make it the same unfortunately. But change can be good, healthy and even open your eyes to how much you truly are capable of, because I can tell you from experience that there was so much I couldn’t imagine doing by myself as a mother of 3 kids, all within 5 years of each other, that I somehow managed to do. I managed to work, go to law school and raise 3 kids who did A LOT of extracurricular activities while my ex lived over an hour away and so did most of my other family members. So, I was very much on my own a good portion of the time. But somehow I managed, and although I will always be proud of myself for going to school and everything I’ve done professionally, I am still beyond amazed and proud of myself for what I was able to handle and the children I’ve been able to raise. So I can promise you that you can do it, because when there is a will there is a way, and I don’t know of anything in this world that has motivated me more than my children.
So this is my advice to you, future divorcee, do your research, secure your funds, and prepare to adjust your life. It is a roller coaster, but one I found worth riding.