You probably spent months planning for your wedding because you wanted it to go as smoothly and perfectly as possible. Now that your marriage is ending, you may be surprised to learn that you should devote that same kind of effort into planning your divorce.
In the long run, planning for divorce will save you time, money, and stress. Here are 10 steps to prepare for divorce:
Step 1: Deal with your emotions.
Divorce is definitely a process where you want your head, not your heart, to dictate your actions. That’s why it’s important to have a healthy outlet for the many emotions you will feel during the divorce process — a therapist or support group can help you deal with your feelings so you and your attorney can take care of business.
Step 2: Get all your documents together.
The divorce process is paperwork-intensive, which means it is critically important for you to have access to all your financial data — income tax returns for the past three years, W-2s, bank and credit card statements, pay stubs, investment account statements, and more. Your attorney can provide you with a list of all the necessary information; keep in mind that the more organized you are, the more smoothly the divorce process will go for you.
Step 3: Know your financial picture.
Before you even start a divorce action, be sure you know the exact state of your finances. This will help you make rational decisions as you negotiate your divorce. In most marriages, one spouse handles the finances more than the other. If it’s that way in your household, and you’re not the one who handles the money, it’s time for you to learn everything about your income, assets, debts, and the household budget. If you need help, seek out a financial consultant.
Step 4: Educate yourself.
The more you know about the divorce process — property and asset division, child support, custody, alimony, etc. — the easier it will be for you. Your attorney will be a good source of education for you; you can also scour our blogs for information on divorce in New Jersey.
Step 5: Create a financial plan.
Once you’re on your own, you’re empowered to plan your financial future. If you’re lost when it comes to financial investments and strategies (you’re not alone!) seek some help from a financial advisor or take a class or two that will teach you how to manage your money. If you weren’t working before the divorce, you’ll likely need to obtain employment in the future. If you can, use this opportunity to find a fulfilling career that can add to your new life.
Step 6: Consider mediation.
Mediation can work for just about everyone involved in a family law matter, whether it is a divorce, a child custody dispute, or divorce order modifications. One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that both parties have control over all the decisions and the final outcome of their case. The mediator is there to facilitate decision-making, not to make the actual decisions for you and your family. Because you retain control of what goes into the final divorce agreement, it is much more likely that all parties will follow the final order.
Step 7: Put together your support team.
Your friends and family can be a source of emotional support, but when it comes to getting what you want and need from your divorce negotiations, you need a professional team to help you. You will need an attorney who specializes in family law. You will probably need a financial consultant. You may even need a therapist. These three can help you navigate the most important aspects of divorce: legal, financial, and emotional. They can help you keep on track so you don’t waste time, money and unnecessary emotion on fighting for something that is unattainable.
Step 8: Be ready to compromise.
Courts prefer that divorcing couples negotiate to settle things themselves, and you will have many opportunities to do so during the divorce process. You will be better served in the long run if you keep yourself open to compromise. Courts tend to view spouses who won’t negotiate unfavorably; being stubborn and trying to use the court to exact revenge is likely to harm you more than your ex.
Step 9: Protect your children.
Most parents try to do a good job of keeping their children out of the middle of their disagreements, but anyone can succumb to using their kids as leverage to hurt the other parent when emotions run high. If you are ever tempted, remember that this behavior not only hurts your children, it can also be used against you when it comes to custody and visitation.
Step 10: Accept your new normal.
You may be someone who never thought they would be getting a divorce; yet here you are, getting a divorce. Divorce comes with a lot of psychological baggage, and if you do not prepare yourself to deal with the negative emotions that divorce drags up, it only makes the process more difficult. Take the time you need to process and deal with your emotions, and don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Murphy & Cistaro. Contact us today for your free consultation.