Getting a divorce is never easy. Even if you and your spouse don't have plenty of shared assets to divide or children to consider, the entire endeavor requires careful thought and preparation. Here are eight essential things you must do before filing for a divorce.
Find a good lawyer
While it's less costly and more manageable if you and your soon-to-be ex-partner can resolve your differences without litigation, obtaining legal support early on can help prevent you from making crucial divorce mistakes. Find a competent and reliable attorney who can help you make informed choices and is willing to take your case to court if necessary. Consult with at least two to three lawyers and avoid hiring the first one you meet. If you have children, research the best children's custody lawyers in your area and choose an experienced attorney specializing in custody cases.
Organize your documents
When preparing for a divorce, the more organized and efficient you are, the less money and time you need to spend. Gather as much information as possible and make copies of essential documents. Some of the documentation you will need include proof of income, bank statements, credit card statements, life insurance policies, loan documents, certificates of deposit, and property tax statements.
Devise a post-divorce plan
One crucial aspect you need to prepare for is the divorce aftermath. Divorce can significantly influence your finances, so creating a post-divorce budget is essential. Ensure that you have at least three to six months of financial resources and be mindful of your spending. Envision your life post-divorce so you can identify the steps you need to take to rebuild yourself.
Evaluate your finances
Before filing for a divorce, you must have a clear understanding of your current financial status. Assess your financial resources, and determine your individual and marital assets and debts. Some shared assets that should be divided fairly include real estate properties, vehicles, bank accounts, jewelry, inheritances, artwork, and heirlooms. After categorizing the shared assets, the next step is determining marital debt. Secure a copy of your credit report, as any debt you may have, will be enumerated on it.
Close joint financial accounts
Before separating, it would be best to pay off and close all shared financial accounts. Doing so can save you from being held liable for any unnecessary debt your spouse will incur while your divorce case is ongoing. If you're unable to pay the balances in full, consider having your accounts frozen in the meantime, or try negotiating with your creditors. Having unpaid debt can significantly damage your credit, so take proper actions immediately.
Establish good credit
If you solely relied on your joint financial accounts during your marriage, securing assets on your own might prove to be difficult once you're legally separated. Before filing for a divorce, you must establish and build your own credit. Open a credit card account in your name only, and use it wisely. Avoid making purchases you can't realistically afford, and make it a point to pay off your monthly balance.
Build a strong support system
Even if you don't harbor any ill feelings towards your spouse, getting a divorce can still be emotionally draining. Having a strong support system is essential during these difficult times. Surround yourself with trusted people you can lean on and who will genuinely offer support.
Reach out to your closest loved ones and friends, and consider joining online divorce support groups. If you're hesitant or uncomfortable talking with people within your social network, consider talking to a licensed therapist or divorce counselor. Without proper support, you may end up venting or discussing marital problems with your children.
Stay off social media
Over the years, social media has increasingly become a platform to elicit moral support. No matter how angry you are with your spouse, publicly shaming them will only hurt your case and make your loved ones resent you, especially your children. The things you say or do can affect the result of the divorce proceedings, so be mindful of your behavior and avoid engaging in activities that can put you in a bad light. Consult with your lawyer on how to respond if someone asks about the status of your divorce. If possible, avoid social media altogether until your divorce case is resolved.
A divorce is a serious matter that should never be taken lightly. With careful planning, the right mindset, and a strong support system, you can successfully transition through divorce and begin the next chapter of your life.