Dissolving a union that was intended to last forever is logistically challenging and emotionally painful. Following these tips will help you be better prepared and ultimately achieve a more optimal outcome in your divorce or separation.
7 things to do BEFORE you file for divorce or move out:
1. Access your emotional support
Consider couples counseling if it feels appropriate, and most importantly seek individual counseling for yourself. It is essential to gather emotional support during this challenging time. Whether it is a close friend, a family member, and/or a professional, access your support system, gather your thoughts and emotions, and prioritize caring for yourself.
2. Consider your legal options
Divorce is complicated even when it is not complicated. The process of ending a relationship can be complex and generally quite emotionally charged, and you should not try to tackle it alone. Contact an experienced family law attorney to represent and advise you appropriately.
3. Gather financial documents
Learn all there is to know about your family's finances. Gather copies of bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, and other financial account records. Be aware of all of your family's assets and debts and obtain all of the relevant documents prior to filing for divorce and/or moving out. This could save you potential struggles with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
4. Establish financial independence
It is recommended you place some cash in a separate account if at all possible. Do this prior to filing for divorce or moving out as a means of self-protection and preparedness. If it is not possible to open a personal account, consider opening a low-interest credit card
5. Consider your children
Prepare yourself ahead of time for how to approach things with your children. Be mindful of how a significant family change may affect them. Prepare yourself to keep the peace as much as possible, for your children's benefit. Resist involving them in the turmoil and prioritize their best interests. Be prepared to talk to your children about what is happening. Listen to them and ensure they have adequate, appropriate support with other family members, at school, and/or with a counselor.
6. Determine custody goals
Think carefully and realistically about what custody arrangement would be in the best interest of your children. Consider all of the variables, schedules, logistics, etc. Determine the custody goals you wish to pursue.
7. Make decisions about your living situation
There are a lot of factors to consider when determining where you will live, both during and post-divorce. Clarify your goals around living arrangements prior to initiating the divorce/separation process. Do you want your spouse to move out? Will you be moving out? If there is a family-owned home, will you want to sell it or have one of you keep it? Before you make any decisions to move out of your home, list your home for sale, or act on your decisions, discuss how to best achieve your goals with an experienced family law attorney.