Is your divorce mindset in the right place?
If there was ever a time to make thoughtful decisions, it’s now. The legal work surrounding your divorce settlement is incredibly important to get right. These decisions will affect your future, your children, your retirement, your house, any child support, alimony, debt and so on.
But every divorce is different. The status of your relationship, whether cordial or tense, shapes how you need to prepare for it.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
-Charles R. Swindoll
The first step is to start a legal separation. (The details of the separation depend on your state of residence.) But even before you file for separation, there are some things you want to consider.
Understanding your financial standing is very important. You should be aware of what you own and/or owe. The best way to do this is by reviewing and gathering documentation. Make multiple copies of all of your important financial documents: pension statements, tax forms, brokerage and mutual fund statements, credit card statements, and other records.
If you have children, start reviewing their information as well. You will want to continue with their health insurance during and after the divorce. An illness or accident can change how property is divided, so while you are still married try to work out an amicable agreement about this. You may be able to file an “uncontested” divorce which could save money and time in court costs. If an uncontested divorce is not possible, you may want to hire an attorney or mediator.
Sometimes an Attorney is the Only Way.
In the case you decide to get legal counsel, remember to bring these three things to meet with your attorney: an accounting sheet of your expenses and income, your tax returns, and a balance sheet listing the family’s assets and debts. This first meeting with your lawyer assesses your needs after the separation.
In some cases, legal bills and court costs may come before the first payment of alimony or even your share of the marital property. Keep a watchful eye on your documents and settlement wishes. (Remember: what’s final is final!) So be proactive and start thinking about what’s in store. Your finances vs. your spouse’s finances, your children’s expenses, and so on. Being organized and aware of the situation will mentally prepare you for what’s ahead. Make sure that your new life is off to a smooth start by keeping a clear head and getting more knowledgeable on the process.