Human nature is such that we do well in those things that we have some experience in – things we have done before – things we are accustomed to doing. Going through a divorce is not one of those things! For most everyone, it will be “their first rodeo.” So, we are naturally afraid, concerned, and lost as to what to do. We don’t even know where to start. Like in all things, though, controlling those things that you can – and not worrying about the things you can’t – is a good way to approach an impending divorce. Getting started has three easy steps:
1. Seek legal advice at the earliest point that you believe your marriage might not make it. Getting all your questions answered as early as possible and being informed of how your specific circumstances might play out in your divorce is the single most important thing you can do. You will feel better and less anxious. All the stories and anecdotes you have heard from friends, neighbors, and co-workers will get put in perspective. Getting educated on divorce and all it entails is the one thing you can do to relieve the fear and lessen the anxiety.
2. Gather all important documents and save them. Don’t know what to get? Well, if you followed Step 1 above, you would know. But if you didn’t, it’s easy. Anything that shows income, assets, debts is what is needed. Tax Returns, financial statements, retirement statements, checking & savings statements, documents dealing with real property you own. Records on property you owned before you married or that you received from an inheritance are especially important. Once copied – get them out of the house and store them with a friend or family member.
3. Prepare as if the divorce is going to happen. It may not. Counseling or a change in your spouse may take you from the path of divorce. But if not, then preparation for the divorce is the best thing you can do. Don’t know about the family finances? Find out. Work too many hours and not spend much time with your kids? Change your schedule and start being more a part of your kids’ lives. Not worked in years? Find out about jobs in the marketplace and how you would get one or how you would need to be retrained to earn a living. No credit on your own? Get some. Have partners in a business you own and no agreements as to what happens to the business in a divorce? Call a Board meeting to get this discussion going.
Understanding early those parts of your marriage partnership that you are weak in and have let your spouse handle and then taking back control is great preparation not only for a divorce – but for you as a person.
Taking these three easy steps starts to put you back in control of your life. It prepares you for a bad situation should a divorce happen and puts you in control of your future. We’ll break down in more detail these three steps and the next stage of the divorce process in future blogs.