Most Americans aren’t prepared when they decide to divorce their spouse—emotionally, physically, or financially. Yet, divorce is common. Nearly half of all marriages will end in divorce. If you’ve decided that you and your spouse are ready to call it quits, there are a few steps you should take before you file the divorce papers that can make it easier.
Choose a Divorce Lawyer
While you may think you don’t need a divorce lawyer, you may at least want to consult with one. A consultation is typically free and can help you learn about your options. There is approximately a zero to six month waiting period after divorce papers are filed before anything is finalized, so you may find you want someone to help you through the process. There will be many financial and legal aspects that you may not understand without a professional. A lawyer can help you fight, negotiate, and settle a divorce. If you decide not to hire a divorce lawyer to see you through your entire divorce, you can simply hire one to help fill out divorce papers or even use their mediation services.
Decide What You Want
It’s a good idea to make a list of what you want before you begin negotiations in a divorce. Your lawyer can help you figure out what you should ask for and what’s reasonable if you aren’t sure. You may want to create a list with three categories—one for what you want, one for what you need, and one for what you can do without. Having this in mind in advance can help things go more smoothly. It can also help to have an idea of what your spouse may ask for. Knowing that can help divorce lawyers understand your partner’s motivations.
Organize Your Finances
A large part of a divorce will include finances, so be sure to get everything you need to be prepared in advance. Get a copy of your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus to start. You should gather all of your documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, assets, and debt. Track your expenses and open a credit card and bank account in your name if you don’t already have them. You will eventually need to create a Financial Affidavit for the court and having all of your financial documents ready before you file divorce papers can save you time and money.
Know That Divorce is a Legal Proceeding
When you got married, you were probably filled with emotions. However, dissolving a marriage is a legal proceeding, and you need to try to keep your emotions in check when you’re in a legal setting. You want to understand and protect your rights and fight or negotiate for assets or child custody. That can be difficult when you’re ending a relationship, but you need to try to keep a clear head so that you don’t end up with an unfair settlement.
No one wants to plan a divorce, but unfortunately, you may have to. Following these simple steps may make it a little easier.