Divorce is difficult on everyone involved. It completely disrupts your life and puts you into the troubling position of having to figure out how to manage your current and future finances, the mental stress that accompanies the process and how to manage the relationship with your children. There are no easy ways to get around the difficulties that accompany divorce, but there are some steps you can take to make the event slightly less painful.
Once the possibility of divorce becomes a reality, your first step should always be to retain an attorney. You will likely spend a few thousand dollars to secure a qualified and competent attorney, and even though the cost may seem suffocating, it will likely save you a load of time and money down the road. The attorney will be essential in preparing communication between your and your future ex-spouse and helping to assist you through the necessary steps of the process. If you hire a decent attorney, they will likely have seen every divorce scenario imaginable and with thus be prepared to help you through your case.
Get your finances in order. As much as it may pain you to have any type of discussion with your spouse, it is important that you both provide full disclosure on all matters related to debt, finances and investments. Understand that all joint accounts will be fair game for both parties and will generally be split right down the middle. It makes no difference who has contributed to the savings or the debt, if it is in both names, you both have claim to those obligations. Once you’ve disclosed everything, it is recommended that you begin to establish your own accounts. Credit cards, checking accounts and savings should be opened solely in your name if you hope to have any chance of keeping your money separated once the divorce proceedings have begun.
One often overlooked change that needs to be made is the stipulations of your will. While you certainly hope that this document doesn’t need to come into play for many years, it is important to make sure it is updated during the divorce. It would be an insulting slap in the face if your ex ends up benefiting from your ultimate demise in the distant future. Be sure to update the beneficiaries of your estate and also make sure to assign a more favorable executor of your estate.
When thinking of your children, you will want to establish firm ground rules in regards to custody, visitation and child support. The amount you will need to pay in child support can vary widely depending on the regulations of the state that you live in, but expect that there will be a predetermined amount depending on the number of children. If both parents can agree on a fair amount, it will likely be accepted by the courts, as long as the children are able to maintain their accustomed standard of living. In respect to visitation and custody, make sure you spell out all terms in minute detail. Don’t expect that your ex will be accommodating when you want to spend time with your kids; she may very well use them as a weapon against you in the future if you do not have everything well documented.
Divorce is not something most people are prepared for when entering into a marriage. If the choice is made to leave your spouse, be sure to do your homework and be as prepared as you possibly can be so that this life altering event doesn’t cripple you, both financially and emotionally, for years to come.