Divorce On Your Mind?
Prepare With These 4 Steps.
Have you been thinking about getting divorced for some time but aren’t quite ready? Maybe you are waiting until the kids are grown or perhaps you haven’t reached a breaking point just yet – it takes time to get to a place of feeling ready. But, one of the most important things you need to do before moving forward with your divorce is to prepare. Divorce coach Jacqui Atcheson gives us 4 steps for planning ahead before divorce. This post originally appeared in Divorce Magazine.
Sarah is planning to ask her husband Sam for a divorce as soon as their youngest is out of high school this June, thinking it will be easier on the children after the school year is over.
Marlene knows her husband has had affairs and is currently having another one yet again. Recently, her daughter found his texts to “the Other Woman”. Marlene is older, frightened but can’t do this anymore. As a financially dependent wife that doesn’t want to go back to work, is there ever a good time?
Jessica can no longer put up with her husband’s narcissistic ways. But they have this once in a lifetime, whirlwind vacation planned and Jessica feels she has dealt with him for this long, why not wait just a little longer?
Do any of these make sense to you or do they make perfect sense? Do you wait until you think the children would be less affected? Are you financially feeling unfit so you continue to wait and hope the affairs will end? How long is narcissism acceptable?
If you are considering divorce, even if you are not ready today; first and foremost; you need to get your financial house in order. What if the moment arises and “the straw that broke the camel’s back” happens tomorrow? If you are not happy, odds are your spouse isn’t either. What if he asks for a separation or divorce. You need to be prepared. You need to plan ahead.
- Have all or as much of your financial paperwork in order. When you are going through divorce, most of the major concerns center around division of income, assets and debts. In divorce, you will experience the most scrutiny of your financial situation than you ever could have imagined, so preparation is key. Having the necessary documents ready early in the process (even if you are thinking about divorce) saves time and money. I have a Comprehensive Checklist; so you can see what documents you need to gather and copy for your records. Many of the items on the list you probably haven’t even thought about needing, so starting early (as you see, I cannot impress this upon you enough) gives you the necessary time to assemble; because once you decide to divorce, your spouse is probably not as likely to help you. Keep these copies in a safe place with a trusted relative or friend or get a new safe deposit box.
- Get a copy of your own credit report, open a charge card in your own name and a bank account. Change your passwords. Many of my clients have never pulled their own credit and at the time of divorce, they find out things that astonish them. If there are any surprises, this is the time to reach out to the credit agencies and get the necessary repairs, so you can obtain your own credit cards now. If you don’t have your own income (Marlene: this one’s for you), it is most important to take care of this as soon as possible. Check your current credit card statements monthly to ensure no charges were spent on his girlfriend. If he has been overspending on the girlfriend, this needs to be documented for your divorce (Marlene: another one for you). Start your own banking relationships at another institution.Change all of your passwords.
- Make sure your new and private bank accounts have enough money in them. Divorce attorneys, accountants, forensic accountants/valuation experts, certified divorce financial analysts, divorce coaches, therapists, any and all on your divorce team, charge hundreds of dollars per hour. Divorce attorneys require large retainers. Once divorce is declared, your spouse will probably move out and there will be two households to support along with any and all old and new debt accumulated.
- Get your divorce team in place. This is also the time to interview several divorce attorneys and see which person is aligned with your values. I also have a list of interview questions to ensure you meet with the attorney that has the expertise needed for your situation.
You might also want to meet with a certified divorce financial analyst at this time as your portfolio will need to be looked at and evaluated to give you a better picture of your settlement options as your divide assets.
A certified divorce coach or therapist is also a very important member of your team. Divorce is one of the biggest stressors and emotional time in your life. A professional will help you get out of the emotion so you can think clearly to make lifelong decisions at this time.
So, there you have it; what you need to be fully prepared for when you begin your divorce whether it’s when your child finishes high school, when you think you have had enough of the constant infidelity or your vacation in paradise. No matter what time line you set, there is no perfect, practical, or ideal time to get divorced. Being prepared will help get you the best results.