Every couple is different. Every divorce is different.
We can’t give you a list of 10 things everyone should do to prepare for a divorce because your divorce probably won’t look like the last one we handled — or the next one we’ll see.
But there are a few things you can consider, questions you can ask yourself, and ways you can think about your next steps.
Are you stalling?
Not to get too real too fast, but are you preparing for your divorce or stalling?
The couples I’ve seen who are best able to move through the divorce process amicably chose to get divorced long before they started to hate each other. One or the other (or both) of them realized the marriage wasn’t working, and they started talking about divorce.
I’m not suggesting that people jump into a divorce after every big fight. But prolonging a painful relationship for months or years because you’re not ready to get divorced can lead to a messier process in the long run. All that time creates more opportunities for anger and resentment to build.
Plus, on a logistical front, everything you’re making and purchasing during that time is something else that will need to be divided in the divorce settlement.
See: Should I File First?
Do you have enough money to meet your needs?
Finances are probably the biggest issue in a divorce. And it’s not just about separating the money out. It’s also about learning a new way to live financially.
Presumably, you’ve been supporting one household on either one or two paychecks. Once you’re divorced, you’ll be supporting two households on that same amount of money.
Are you financially comfortable now? Or are you living paycheck to paycheck? Or something in between.
Some of my clients decide to look for a better-paying job as they prepare for divorce. More wages provides them greater comfort in paying for a new home or some increased costs of living.
For instance, perhaps you have a family cell phone plan. Or you get covered by your spouse’s health insurance. A divorce can increase these costs, and being prepared for that change can help you better negotiate the financial parts of your divorce settlement.
Thinking none of this matters because you’ll be getting a hefty chunk of alimony every month? There’s no way to guess right now how much alimony you’ll receive — if any. Many people who do receive alimony find that it doesn’t cover all their costs. (The same often goes for child support.)
The divorce process itself costs money as well. If you go into it aiming to demolish your spouse, you’ll spend a lot more than if you plan for an uncontested or amicable divorce.
Do you know how the divorce process works?
Divorce rarely looks like it’s presented on television or in the movies. In reality, many people don’t understand all their options. That’s especially the case if you’ve never been through a divorce.
For instance, many divorces never end up in a courtroom. You can choose to file for an uncontested divorce and avoid standing in front of a judge. But that option is only available to you if you know about it.
Read up on how the divorce process works in your state. If you’re in Georgia, we have a full library of articles about the Georgia divorce process.
- The Divorce Process in Georgia: What to Expect
- How Much Child Support Will I Get in Georgia?
- Uncontested Divorce in Georgia: What You Need to Know
- The Cost of Divorce in GA
- How to File for Divorce in Georgia
- What are the Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?
What kind of divorce do you want?
This might sound like a strange question, but it’s an important one to answer before you talk to an attorney.
Not all divorce attorneys have the same specialties. Some are known for being bulldog litigators. They’ll fight to the death in the courtroom to help you win your case.
Others are focused on keeping things amicable or working with couples to come to resolutions before they file with the court.
If you want to drag your spouse through the dirt, and you have lots of money to spend on the litigation process, you’ll probably want to choose one of those bulldog attorneys.
If you want a more peaceful process or if you want your divorce to be over as quickly as possible, you should consider attorneys that specialize in uncontested divorce.
Are you ready to talk to your spouse about divorce?
One of the most important steps in the divorce process is having that initial conversation with your spouse.
Asking for a divorce in a comfortable environment with firmness and kindness is one of the best ways to set the stage for a peaceful and productive process. Recognize that they will probably need time to step away and process what you’ve said. Try not to get too deep into details in that first conversation.
Eventually, you can talk about what kind of divorce process you both want and, if necessary, how you’ll support your children through divorce.
Do you have a support network?
Divorce is emotionally taxing. Even the most amicable divorces create stress for the parties involved.
Having people you trust and can talk to will help you avoid venting in the wrong situations. You’ll be able to refrain from complaining about your spouse to your kids. You’ll think better of yelling at your spouse during mediation. You’ll have the emotional bandwidth to agree on the plan that will help you move forward rather than refusing to budge until your spouse is punished.
You can talk to a friend, a family member, a therapist, a member of the clergy. Just remember to choose someone who will keep your conversations confidential. The last thing you want is someone sharing things you’ve said or trying to stir the pot with your soon-to-be-ex spouse.
Are you ready to move on?
The couples that move through the divorce process most quickly and peacefully are those that are ready to move on.
They may be upset or hurt. They may be angry or scared. But they keep their big goal in mind: to move forward with their lives. If they don’t get exactly everything they want in the divorce settlement, they don’t sweat it. They don’t get mired in the details.
At Porchlight, we help clients reduce the drama in their divorce and move forward with the next chapter of their lives. Contact us for a legal clarity session.