Preparing for divorce seems like the ultimate betrayal.
It conjures up images of the greedy businessman who hides all of his money in off-shore accounts right before he divorces his wife. Or the gold-digger wife who patiently waits until the pre-nup has expired before telling her husband she’s done.
Preparing for divorce sounds cold, calculating, and more than a little bit manipulative.
But, is it?
Is Preparing for Divorce Dishonest?
Many people can’t bear to have others think of them as home-wreckers. They don’t want to look manipulative. They don’t others to think that they stayed in a dead marriage just long enough to put themselves in the best possible financial position to get divorced.
Yet, preparing for a divorce doesn’t have to be devious.
For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom and you haven’t worked for the last ten years, preparing for divorce might mean getting yourself the training and education you need to re-enter the workforce and earn a livable income.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, preparing for divorce might mean saving enough money to pay for the professional fees in advance so that your divorce doesn’t saddle you or your spouse with debt you can’t pay.
If you are a parent, preparing for divorce might mean meeting with a child psychologist to learn what you and your spouse can do to minimize the damage that divorce does to your kids. That way, you can help your kids transition smoothly, instead of piling so much emotional garbage on them that they have to spend the rest of their lives in therapy.
The bottom line is that preparing for divorce doesn’t have to be evil. On the contrary, it can be one of the smartest things you ever do.
The Benefits of Preparing for Divorce
The more prepared you are for any life event, the more likely it is to go well. That’s why people spend months, or years, planning their wedding. They want their wedding to be perfect. They want their wedding to go off without a hitch. Why should divorce be different?
(Okay, I know getting married is very different than getting divorced. The point is that, if you want either of those events to go well, you have to plan them, and work at them.)
The more prepared you are for your divorce, the more time and money you are likely to save in the divorce process. If you’ve put together all the right paperwork before your divorce, you won’t have to scramble to try to collect it during your divorce. You also won’t have to pay your attorney or a financial adviser to sift through piles of paperwork in order to prepare your divorce documents.
Being prepared for divorce doesn’t just mean gathering documents, though. Divorce is legal, financial, emotional, and psychological. The more prepared you are to deal with each of these areas of divorce, the more smoothly your divorce is likely to go.
Here are 10 of the most important tips you will need to understand how to prepare for your divorce as effectively as possible.
10 Tips for Preparing for Divorce
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. It really is that simple.
Of course, controlling your emotions doesn’t mean that you have to transform yourself into a robot, or a Vulcan like Mr. Spock. 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 get yourself a therapist or a divorce coach, or join a support group, as soon as possible. If you do you will least have a mechanism in place to help you deal with your emotions.
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!) That includes gathering 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. The problem is that, when you’re going through a divorce, you’re distracted. You can’t focus. Everything takes longer. So, the more organized you can be going into your divorce, the more grief you will save yourself during your divorce.
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 the process, the easier your divorce process is likely to go. But, getting the education you need can be challenging.
Divorce affects almost every area of your life. That means that to get through your divorce well, you need to know a little bit about a lot of different things. You need to learn about the divorce process, dividing property, child support, spousal support, personal finance, real estate, parenting, child psychology, conflict resolution and more. While you don’t need to become an expert in everything just to make it through your divorce, knowing the basics in each area will help you in a big way.
Understand Your Finances.
If you don’t want to end up as a homeless person 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, all I can say is: Get over it! (Sorry!)
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 understand the basics of personal finance.
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 you’re going to end up falling flat on your face. You could also end up flat broke.
Before you get divorced you have to make sure that you will have the ability to bring in enough money to live and pay all of your bills once your divorce is over. You can’t do that until you know how much money you will be paying/receiving in support. Once you do, if you can see that your budget isn’t likely to balance, you need to start coming up with ways that you can either increase your income or decrease your expenses. The sooner you do that, the better.
Discover Your Options.
In today’s world, you can get a divorce using mediation, litigation, arbitration, Collaborative Divorce. The divorce process that you use to get divorced can directly affect the outcome you get in your divorce. It can also affect your future relationships, your finances, and your kids. It can affect the amount of money and time you spend on your divorce. The problem is, most people don’t start to explore their divorce process options until after they see an attorney and file for divorce. By then, it can be too late.
The best time to start a Collaborative Divorce or to mediate your divorce is in the beginning. Once you spend time and money fighting in court, you set in motion a pattern of fighting that is difficult to break. That’s why it’s vitally important to research and understand all of your divorce process options before you start your divorce.
7. Put Your Team Together.
No one should go through a divorce alone. Divorce is so challenging, complicated, and overwhelming that trying to go through it without the right help is like trying to win an Olympic gold medal without having coaches and trainers. You might be able to do it, but the odds are against you.
Divorce is legal, financial and emotional. In a perfect world, that means that your divorce team will have a divorce lawyer, a financial adviser, and a therapist. Eventually, you may need others (like a divorce coach, a realtor, a business evaluator, a child psychologist etc.) on your team as well. You will also need a personal support team of family and friends. Putting the right team together takes time. If you can start interviewing and finding the right divorce professionals before you start your divorce, you will be prepared to move forward more quickly once your divorce is in process.
Set Realistic Goals From the Start.
Most people muddle through their divorce without ever asking themselves one critical question: What do I want? What are the one or two most important things I want from my divorce, no matter what? If you don’t ask yourself that question, and invest time finding the right answer, you have very little chance of ending up where you want to be once your divorce is over.
The sooner you can set goals for your divorce, the more likely you are to achieve them. But, before you commit to pursuing a goal, you also have to make sure that it’s realistic. Many people set divorce goals that are legally or financially impossible to achieve. Setting that kind of impossible goal is like setting no goal at all. So, while preparing for your divorce, you need to not only identify your goals, but make sure they are realistic as well.
Work on How to Minimize the Damage to Your Kids.
Preparing for your divorce also means learning how you can help your kids through your divorce so that they suffer as little damage as possible. You need to think about how you can best break the news of your divorce to your kids. You also need to think about what you can do to support your kids’ emotionally during this time.
Divorce also affects kids financially. Older kids especially get worried about whether they will have to move, or whether they will have to give up their activities. If your kids’ lifestyle is going to have to change after your divorce, you need to be honest with them. While you don’t need to share your entire financial situation with your kids, you do need to let them know how their lives and activities will or won’t change during and after your divorce.
Make Peace With Your Divorce.
Getting a divorce may not be anything you ever thought you would be doing. It may go against everything you told yourself you believed in. Yet, divorce happens. Just because it happened to you doesn’t make you bad, wrong, evil or a failure. The only thing your divorce means is that your marriage didn’t work. Period.
Yet, because of all the psychological baggage that goes with divorce, going through a divorce churns up a whole barrage of negative emotions. If you’re not prepared to deal with those emotions effectively, they will make your divorce more difficult. They can also make getting over your divorce infinitely more painful. If you want to make peace with your divorce, you need to process your emotions. You need time to be alone so you can cry, scream, beat a pillow, or do whatever you need to work through your emotions in a way that doesn’t hijack your divorce or stress out your kids.
Changing the Conversation in Your Head
While the thought of preparing for divorce may make you feel sick to your stomach, doing it is really one of the smartest things you can do. Being prepared will help make you stronger and your divorce smoother. Being prepared will also give you more confidence and control.
Does that mean that, as long as you’re prepared, your divorce will be a walk in the park?
Not by a long shot!
But, preparing for divorce can help you make better choices during your divorce. It can help reduce the stress on you and your kids. (Indirectly, that also reduces the stress on your spouse, although s/he may not appreciate that fact while your divorce is raging on.) Being prepared will also put in you in a much better position to start a new life after your divorce.
In the end, while preparing for divorce can seem cold-hearted, it can actually save you and your family from an enormous amount of unnecessary pain. That doesn’t mean that getting ready to divorce will ever make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It won’t. But, it’s still one of the smartest things you can do.
One of the easiest ways to prepare for divorce is to get organized. A Divorce Checklist can help you do exactly that. Get your FREE DIVORCE CHECKLIST NOW. Just CLICK THE BUTTON below!