When faced with divorce, it is important to take measures to protect yourself and your children. If your spouse already has an attorney, most likely he or she is taking defensive steps as well.
Thoughts about your marriage and the cause of divorce are unavoidable, but now is the time to think clearly so you are able to take care of yourself and your future. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!
Here are 11 things to do before your divorce:
- Surround yourself with support – Talk to people you know you can count on and trust like your family, best friends and a good attorney. They will be your rock as you go through the process.
- Gather information – Important documents and contact information related to all assets and debts should be copied and kept somewhere safe and accessible to you. Some examples are tax returns, bank and investment statements, insurance policies, mortgage documents, employment and business records, phone and medical bills, credit card, retirement account and social security statements, wills and trusts. It is often much harder to collect these after the divorce process begins.
- Inventory household and personal items – It may be difficult to know which items could become the cause of dispute later on. Make a list or videotape your possessions in case they go missing.
- Take charge of your finances – You will need to start saving up for legal and unforeseen expenses as well as taking stock of your financial situation. Get a separate bank account, copy of your credit report, and safe deposit, and create an emergency fund for the future.
- Change personal passwords – Secure any personal information like your email and bank accounts.
- Review documents – Take a look at your will, powers-of-attorney and health care directives in case you have named your spouse and wish to revise them.
- Get check-ups and other costly treatments covered by your health insurance.
- Keep a journal and a budget – They will help you to remember small details about your marriage and expenses when they are under scrutiny and help determine what your cost-of-living might be after the divorce.
- Decide how to discuss the divorce with your kids – Children are often overlooked during a divorce and suffer the most. Be upfront with them and explain as best you can that you and your spouse will be separated but it is not their fault and you still love them.
- Make sure you can provide for yourself – Make plans for your future by securing a place to live, job to support your new lifestyle, personal mailbox, phone, and funds.
- Set your priorities – Decide what issues and assets are most important to you and what you want the divorce process to be like before your perspective is skewed by stress and lengthy proceedings.