If you and your spouse have decided to separate and move towards divorce, there are several things to consider and get in order so you are prepared for the process, ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible.
Once the possibility of divorce has been established, things often begin to move very quickly leaving you feeling very stressed, overwhelmed and foggy. In order to start off on the right foot, below is a pre-divorce checklist with many of the top tasks you should tackle to stay clear and organized throughout the process.
- Assemble Your Support Team
- Consult a Family Lawyer
- Copy Important Documents
- Do a Home Inventory
- List Household Budget
- Analyze Family Debt
- Understand Your Spouse’s Income
- Assess Your Earning Potential
- Know Your Credit History
- Begin to Save Money
- Prioritize Your Children
- Remain Respectful with Your Spouse
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12 Things that Should Be on your Pre Divorce Checklist
Assemble Your Support Team
These days, it is proven that those whose first call is to a divorce coach, have a better outcome. A divorce coach can be your guide, your thinking partner and your emotional processor. All of this helps the process go smoother, people feel less alone, more organized, and showing up as their best selves as possible in the tough moments. The conflict is also diffused, and ultimately you will save money in the long run.
Think about your family and close friends that you want in your support circle, what kind of legal representation you feel would resonate and whether or not you will utilize a mediator.
Consult a Family Lawyer
Once you know that you are definitely separating and moving toward getting a divorce, you and your coach should determine what type of legal counsel you are looking for. Your legal counsel can help to consult you on what the legal process will look like, and what your options are and guide you to begin assembling important documents, ultimately ensuring you are in the best position possible before the process begins.
Copy Important Documents
It is wise to stay organized, as many important documents will be necessary for the legal process of divorce. Do your best to go through the important documents in your home and make copies of them.
An example of some of the important documents you will need are tax returns, bank statements, investments, retirement savings, wills, and mortgage documents. If you or your spouse are self-employed, it is also a priority to gather financial documents about the business.
Do a Home Inventory
As you and your spouse will be dividing all of your matrimonial assets, make a thorough list or inventory of all of the major items in your home– for instance, furniture, art or jewelry pieces. Also include items that are not kept in your home, such as in a safety deposit box or storage unit.
Also make a list of other assets and liabilities including memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered assets.
Remember that your house itself is likely your largest asset and needs to be dealt with when it comes to the overall financial picture. Should you sell right away, or wait?
List Household Budget
After you do your home inventory, it is important to compile a list of all of your household expenses. Monthly, weekly, and daily expenses are all important. Having a solid grasp on all of the money that you and your spouse typically spend is critical to determine what the divorce process will look like financially, as well as potential settlement outcomes that include child and potentially spousal support.
Analyze Family Debt
Similarly to household expenses and household budget, take a look at the debt that your family has. What is still remaining on your mortgage costs and what are your monthly mortgage payments.
If at all possible, paying down some of this debt before may be helpful, as the allocation of any marital debt is one of the more difficult topics for your legal counsel and your team to negotiate and settle.
Determine whether any of the debt is from you or your spouse prior to marriage, as well, as that will come into play in your settlement.
Understand Your Spouse’s Income
If you need to, ensure you do the proper research to determine your spouse’s income. This can easily be done by looking at a pay stub, as long as your partner works a salaried job. However, if they are self-employed, this may be more challenging and require extra support from an accountant.
Assess Your Earning Potential
If you are not currently working or have not been in the workforce for some time, do some research and calculations so that you can determine how much you might be able to earn if you do need to re-enter the job market. Your earning potential is going to become important during the divorce process and settlement, so, understanding where you stand will be invaluable.
Know Your Credit History
It is key that you are aware of your credit score and your credit history, especially if you may be moving out of your shared home. Without a good credit score– or the knowledge of your credit information– it is incredibly difficult for you to find a new place to live, as well as to acquire other things such as a car or mobile phone plan.
Your credit may also be affected, and you may lose discounts that you once had on things like family cell phone plans, auto insurance or any other type of joint family plan service. It’s important to document these if you are expecting to collect alimony and child support in the future.
If you do not have good credit history, you can, it is important to take the appropriate steps to remedy this.
Begin to Save Money
It is important to look seriously at any unnecessary expenses and consider cutting them in order to save money. Begin putting away money to pay for your legal fees, as well as rebuilding your life after your divorce.
It is critical that you always have access to your own savings accounts, whether or not that is linked to your spouse. Some of the upfront costs you will face are for your support team, such as a legal retainer, coaching fees and/or a financial analyst.
- It is best to open a checking or savings bank account that is in your name alone
- Open a credit card that is in your name alone
- By signing up for a credit monitoring service, you will get notified if your spouse attempts to open credit cards and rack up debt in your name. There are services out there that offer this type of protection. The peace of mind is well worth the cost.
Prioritize Your Children
During this trying time, your children’s best interests are critical and the top priority. Change brings uncertainty and their safety, happiness, and security should lead to most decisions you make regarding the family. Language and communications around the children and the divorce are key.
Also don’t be in a rush to get things done quickly so you can move on, although the goal is to move on, you don’t want to cut any corners as you can make costly mistakes and add additional stress to both you and your children.
Refer to my blog for more information on how to conduct yourself as the best parent possible throughout the process. We also have some tips and tricks when it comes to scheduling parental time, and kids’ activities.
Remain Respectful with Your Spouse
Remaining cordial or civil with your spouse as best as you possibly can, throughout the divorce process can obviously mitigate unnecessary conflict, helping get to the right outcomes for your family. It is important to remember that if you have children, this person will be in your life as a coparent as you move forward in life.
If it is possible, staying amicable will create less stress for you, your children and others around you. If you need support with this, consult with a coach so you are able to operate with your best self through the process.
Heidi Dinning Divorce Coaching – Get One on One Help
If you or someone you know is facing separation or divorce and don’t know where to begin, that’s where I can help. I act as emotional support, thinking partner and guide for you, so you can retain your dignity, find clarity and feel hopeful for the future. To learn more, visit our certified divorce coaching page.
For more blogs related to divorce support, relationship communication and co-parenting topics, visit our Blog Page
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