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Your Ultimate Divorce Preparation Checklist: Essential Steps
Updated: July 16, 2023 |
Taylor Kovar, CFP

How to Prepare for Divorce: Legally, Financially, and Personally

The end of a marriage can be an extremely challenging and stressful time in your life. However, taking the right steps and preparing in advance will help you make the transition more smoothly. In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive divorce preparation checklist filled with items to consider before filing for divorce. Let’s take a deep breath and get started.

Steps to Take When Preparing for Divorce

Build a Support System: Emotional and Spiritual Considerations

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally draining time, so it’s essential to have a strong support network to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs. Consider reaching out to family and friends who can offer a kind ear or provide practical support, such as helping with childcare or running errands. Additionally, joining a support group can be a helpful way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.

Another way to support your emotional well-being during a divorce is to focus on spiritual or mindfulness practices. Whether it’s attending religious services, practicing yoga or meditation, or simply spending time in nature, taking time to recenter your thoughts and process your emotions can be beneficial. Seriously, nobody knows how to get a divorce without suffering a severe emotional toll, but taking care of your mind and spirit will help you weather the storm far better.

Navigating the Physical and Legal Aspects of Divorce

Divorce can be a legally complex process and it’s essential to have the right guidance to help you navigate it successfully. One of the most critical steps you can take is to find a reputable divorce attorney who can explain exactly how to get a divorce, represent your interests while remaining objective, and guide you through the legal proceedings.

When choosing an attorney as part of preparing for divorce, it’s essential to do your research and interview several candidates before making a decision. Look for a lawyer who has experience handling divorce cases, is responsive to your questions and concerns, and communicates clearly and effectively with you throughout the process.

Figuring out Divorce Finances

Divorce can have a significant impact on your financial situation. It’s absolutely essential to take steps to protect your financial well-being during this time. One of the first things you should do is gather all of your financial documents, including bank statements, credit card statements, tax returns, and pay stubs. This will help you get a clear picture of your financial situation and identify any assets or debts that need to be divided.

It’s also important to consider opening a separate bank account as part of preparing for divorce, if you don’t already have one. While finalizing the divorce, finances should ideally be independent on a day-to-day level. This also makes it easier to manage your living expenses during the divorce process. Additionally, you may need to discuss seeking alimony or child support with your attorney, depending on your situation.

Organizing Your Personal and Legal Documents

As the marriage is ending, it’s essential to keep track of all of your personal and legal papers to ensure that you have everything you might need. Some of the most important documents to gather include your will, health and life insurance policies, and property deeds and titles.

It’s a good idea to gather all of these documents in one safe and accessible place, such as a safety deposit box or a file cabinet. Make copies for your attorney, and keep the originals in a secure location.

Finding a New Home: Options to Consider

If you are considering relocating to a new residence during or after your divorce, there are several factors to keep in mind. One of the most important is what you can afford: during divorce, finances tend to be unclear and turbulent. Renting, buying, or leasing a new home all come with expenses and uncertainties that must be evaluated before making a final decision.

You’ll also want to consider practical concerns, such as the location of the home, its proximity to your work or your children’s school, and any other factors that may impact your daily life. Take the time to research your options and consult with your attorney or financial advisor before making a decision.

Self-Care During Divorce: Coping Strategies and Tips

Nobody tells you how to prepare for divorce on an emotional level. Coping with the stress and feelings that accompany this process can be a challenge, but there are steps you can take to support your well-being during this time. One of the most important is to practice self-care regularly.

This may include things like exercising regularly, getting enough sleep each night, and maintaining healthy eating habits. It can also involve treating yourself to activities that help you relax and de-stress, such as a massage or a day trip to a nearby park or beach.

Remember that it’s okay to make time for yourself and prioritize your own needs during this challenging transition. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with divorce and move forward with your life.

Essential Information to Gather During a Divorce

Collecting Individual and Marital Information

Aside from the documents we’ve encouraged you to save while preparing for divorce, collecting all of the necessary information throughout the process ensures that you will have everything you need to make informed decisions. This involves collecting information about assets, both marital and individual, and liabilities such as mortgages, car loans, and credit card balances.

During a divorce, finances are likely to become a major sticking point. This makes it essential to gather all of the financial information you can. This can include bank statements, tax returns, and any other financial documents that may be relevant. You should also make a list of all the assets you and your spouse own, including real estate, vehicles, and investments – in fact, drawing up this list is close to number one on your divorce preparation checklist.

Collecting and organizing this information early in the process can help you and your attorney better understand your financial situation and make informed decisions about how to get a divorce settlement that’s fair to everyone involved.

Understanding Divorce and Child Custody Laws

Getting acquainted with your state’s divorce and child custody laws can help you navigate the process more easily. Your attorney can provide you with the legal knowledge you need, such as understanding child custody laws, child support and/or spousal support laws, and property division laws. It doesn’t hurt to do your own research, though, especially when you’re just figuring out how to prepare for divorce but haven’t definitely made the decision to end your marriage.

It is especially important to understand the laws in your state when it comes to divorce finances and child custody. For example, some states require that divorcing couples attend mediation before going to court, while others do not. Understanding these rules can help you finalize your divorce preparation checklist and ensure that your rights are protected.

Protecting Your Assets: Identifying Personal Property

Personal property is often overlooked during the divorce process even though it could have a significant monetary value. Make sure to identify all personal possessions, including artwork, jewelry, and collections. If necessary, arrange for an independent appraisal so that you can have a better idea of individual items’ values.

It is important to defend your assets during a divorce. This includes identifying all of your personal property and ensuring that it is accounted for during the property division process. If you have any valuable items, such as heirlooms or jewelry, it may be necessary to have an expert determine their value.

By taking the time to identify and protect your assets, you can help ensure that you receive a fair settlement during the divorce process.

Updating Your Legal and Financial Affairs During a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally challenging time, but it’s important to keep your legal and financial affairs in order. In addition to the steps outlined in the previous section, there are several other important considerations to add to your divorce preparation checklist.

Updating Your Homeownership Documents

If you and your spouse own a home together, you will need to update the ownership documents to reflect the changes in your marital status. This may involve updating the title to remove your spouse’s name or creating a new title altogether. You should also consider updating your mortgage agreement to reflect any changes in ownership or payment responsibilities.

Retirement Accounts and Investments

Divorce can have a significant impact on your retirement accounts and investments. You may need to split these assets with your spouse or create a new investment strategy that reflects your new financial situation. It’s a very good idea to work with a financial advisor to ensure that your retirement accounts and investments are properly managed during this time.

Child Custody and Support

If you have children, child custody and support will be an important consideration during your divorce. You will need to work with your spouse and your lawyers to develop a custody and support agreement that meets the needs of your family. This may involve negotiating a parenting plan, determining child support payments, and establishing visitation schedules.

Emotional Support and Self-Care

Finally, it’s important to prioritize your emotional well-being during this time. Divorce can be a stressful and difficult experience, and it’s important to take care of yourself. This may involve seeking support from friends and family, working with a therapist or counselor, or engaging in self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy.

Moving Forward After Divorce

Creating a New Vision for Your Life

Going through a divorce can feel like the end of the world, but it’s important to remember that life goes on. You have the opportunity to create a new vision for your life, one that is filled with hope, joy, and fulfillment.

One of the first steps to moving forward after divorce is to focus on the present. It’s easy to get caught up in the past and what could have been, but dwelling on those thoughts will only hold you back. Instead, take some time to reflect on what you want for your future. Do you want to travel? Pursue a new career? Start a new hobby? Write down your goals and start working towards them.

Another important aspect of moving forward after divorce is making sure your personal needs are met. Divorce can be an emotionally and mentally draining experience, so it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being. This might include practicing mindfulness, going to therapy, or engaging in physical activity. Whatever it is that helps you feel your best, make it a priority.

Building a support system is also essential during this time. Lean on your family and friends for emotional support and seek out new connections through support groups or social events. Surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting people can help you stay motivated and inspired.

Finally, it’s important to remember that healing takes time. Be patient with yourself and don’t try to rush the process. Moving forward after divorce is a journey, but with the right mindset and support, you can create a life that is even better than before.

By following this divorce preparation checklist and continuously prioritizing self-care, you will be better prepared to move forward with a sense of confidence and peace. Remember, you are not defined by your divorce, but by how you choose to move forward from it.


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