Maybe you’ve found out your spouse has had an affair, or you’ve spent a lot of time soul-searching and realize you’re just not happy where you are.Whatever led you to the decision, you’ve determined it’s time for you to get a divorce.Choosing to get divorced is a serious decision that has potentially far-reaching implications for the rest of your life. Before you start filling out forms and looking for a divorce attorney, there are some things you need to carefully consider.Here are 4 things you need to think about before you start the process of getting a divorce:
Is Legal Separation a Better Option?
Divorce isn’t always the best option for every couple, especially if you and your spouse think you may be able to work out your differences over time.If you know that you and your spouse need some time apart but think divorce may be too final, consider a legal separation. This allows you to separate your finances and property without formally dissolving your marriage.For some couples, this time apart is what they need to reconcile their differences and they decide to stay married. For others, the space allows them to see that they truly would be better off divorced, and a legal separation period simply acts as a precursor to the full divorce.Additionally, if you or your spouse rely on one another for important things such as health insurance, you may want to consider a legal separation instead of divorce so that you can retain the insurance but not have to live together anymore.
Gather Your Documents
Whether or not you end up divorcing, you will need to make sure you have copies of certain important documents.These documents are necessary in order to prepare the paperwork that leads up to your divorce, but having copies is also beneficial in an emergency or for other purposes such as estate planning.Some documents you should ensure you have copies of include:
Birth certificates for both spouses and any children
Documents relating to any financial accounts
Investment account information
Documents relating to retirement accounts
Make sure you have, at minimum, copies of all these important documents stored in a safe place. If you can, get your hands on the originals and store them somewhere.And, it may be prudent to make an extra set of copies of all these documents and have them stored by your divorce attorney or a trusted family member or friend, just in case something happens to the copies you have in your possession.
Talk to Someone
What may feel like an insurmountable hill in your marriage could be the case of one, or both, of you suffering from burnout, depression, stress, or another mental illness.Even if you feel that divorce is absolutely in your best interests, it never hurts to get a second opinion on your situation.Find and visit a counselor or therapist for some talk therapy. If necessary, have your spouse schedule a separate appointment or schedule a couples session for the both of you. If you determine that you are dealing with an issue that is magnifying your marital issues but that can be helped by some extra therapy, medication, or other coping mechanism without dissolving your marriage, then it will be worth it.In the event that you and your therapist determine that divorce is your best course of action, you’ll at least be able to go into it with the knowledge that you worked through your decision carefully.
Make a Financial Plan
Divorce can be expensive, and it’s best to go into the whole process with a clear understanding of just how you’ll be able to shoulder the burden.Sit down and look at how your daily expenses will change after your divorce. Will you need to move into another place, or will you stay in your current home? Can you afford the rent or mortgage, plus utilities, taxes, and upkeep on your own? What about food, any expenses related to your children, and other incidental items? Carefully look over your expenses versus your current income – without considering child support or alimony too hard – and determine just what you have to cut and what you can keep.Another thing to consider when making this plan is whether or not you feel an attorney can fit into your divorce plan.While hiring an attorney can help you become more financially secure after your divorce, getting to that point can come at a high price. Do you think you can afford to pay an attorney for the whole divorce process, or would trying to work through things with your spouse and only get an attorney’s opinion at the very end be more prudent?