All major life events, both the good and the bad, are improved through preparation. You prepare for a family vacation and you prepare for hurricane season every year. Likewise, you should prepare for a divorce if you are considering one, and not just “wing it.” There are many aspects that can go into preparing for a divorce. This article will explore some of the aspects of preparing for a divorce that are discussed less than others but are as important, if not more so.
Establish a Support System Now
It is vitally important that you establish some kind of support system now if you are considering a divorce (or if your spouse has initiated one). Divorces can be extremely isolating and emotionally devastating. It is imperative that you have at least one safe space to vent throughout the process. This can mean finding a therapist or divorce coach who can walk you through the transition of a divorce. We have had many clients who have benefited from a local support group for people going through a divorce. Some support groups are broken down into subgroups, such as men or women, senior citizens, religious affiliation, LGBTQ members, etc., so you should be able to find one that fits your needs.
Mentally Prepare for the Loss of Family and Friends
I know it sounds dire, but the reality is that when a couple divorces, it is very common for the couple’s friends to “choose sides” and maintain a friendship with only one of the spouses. Similarly, it is common for the in-laws to side with the spouse that is their family by blood. This does not mean you will be fighting with these people, but you should anticipate the possibility that a significant portion of your friend and family circle will disappear, sometimes immediately, upon the initiation of a divorce. This can amplify the feelings of isolation and grief that come with a divorce, and this is why it is vital to take stock of your closest friends and family and identify who can serve as a confidant and trusted source of support. Because this is not a “legal issue” in family law, it is rarely discussed by attorneys, but it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself going into a divorce. Do not underestimate its importance.
Give Yourself a Financial Education
Few married couples handle the finances equally. Whether on purpose or through the passage of time, it is common for one spouse to handle the financial logistics of married life, from paying bills and budgeting to making investment decisions and everything else financial. What can end up happening is the other spouse finds themselves with very little financial knowledge. If you are preparing for a divorce and you don’t have much financial literacy or knowledge, it imperative that you take the time to remedy this imbalance. The good news is that in our current technology age, you have limitless resources to learn anything, including all about finances, investing, budgeting, retirement, etc. While you should learn broad financial concepts, or at least become familiar with them, you should also take the time to learn about your family’s own personal finances. What do you and your spouse actually make every year? How much are you spending? Are you investing any money and if so, how? What do your respective retirement plans look like? You will do yourself a great disservice going into a divorce with little to no knowledge of your financial situation. You will ultimately be in charge of your finances when the divorce is finalized, so this is something you will have to learn regardless. Doing it sooner will make your divorce go more smoothly and give you confidence going forward into your future.
Set Reasonable and Realistic Expectations
How will the divorce go? Will it be peaceful and relatively quick or acrimonious and never-ending? What will the new time-sharing schedule for your children look like? Will you receive spousal support, and if so, how much? What kind of new living arrangement do you actually need and can realistically afford? Will this divorce change your retirement plans? You should be asking yourself these and many other questions going into a divorce. You should also seek sound legal counsel who will provide you with real answers, not just what you want to hear, so that you can start the process with reasonable expectations. We have seen many parties led astray in their divorce because they did not set reasonable expectations with themselves and their attorney.
There are many things you can and should do to prepare for a divorce. The best way to start this is to discuss everything with an attorney, even if you are nowhere near ready to move forward with the divorce. The first time you speak to a family law attorney should not be when you have reached your breaking point and want to file immediately. We are happy to talk to individuals who are simply exploring the possibility of divorce at some point in their future. Please click here to schedule a consultation today.