Regardless of how long a couple has been married, a divorce is always difficult, both financially and emotionally. The average divorce takes about twelve months to complete. To help make the process a little bit easier, this article lists things you should know before you begin the often lengthy process.
Have the Conversation
Though it may be difficult when going through a divorce, choose a date and time that doesn’t coincide with an important family event, holiday, birthday, or anniversary. Choose a time when both parties have time to talk, think, and reflect. It’s best to choose a neutral location, away from the home where distractions can take place.
Hire a Lawyer
Even the divorce is amicable, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer. A good lawyer will fight for you and your children in a divorce case, and make sure that the proper paperwork is completed and submitted on time. Don’t try to be your lawyer. Even other lawyers hire divorce lawyers to handle their divorces, because divorces are emotional, especially when children are involved. A good lawyer will be the “go-between” for you and your spouse, he will handle paperwork and details, and he can be reassuring as you navigate unfamiliar territory.
Keep It Private
Don’t let your children hear you and your spouse fighting. Parents usually have their children’s best interests in mind, but a divorce can cause a lot of turmoil for the children. It is also important to not confide in your children. Don’t share money problems with your children, or talk about how much you hate your spouse. Even seeing a parent cry is difficult for a child to process. Try to keep them out of the details. Assure them that mom and dad both love them very much and will continue to love them, even if they aren’t living together.
Consider Alternatives to Court
In a collaborative divorce, each party hires an attorney, but both sides agree to decide the case without going to court. A team of professionals including a mental health professional to help with children’s issues, and a neutral financial planner. Parties use face-to-face negotiations as well as email and phone calls to address issues when they arise. This can be a less expensive and less stressful option than battling it out in court.
Compile Legal Documents
It is important to have quick access to many official documents. Make a copy, and keep handy documents such as the marriage license and any prenuptial agreements. Also, find and copy federal and state tax returns from the last five years. Gather details of owned real estate, such as mortgage, deed, appraisals, and rental property records. It may be necessary to have end-of-life documents as well, including wills, power of attorney, and advance healthcare directives.
Change passwords on all accounts, including email, banking, credit cards, etc. Because your spouse is likely to know or be able to guess your passwords, be sure to choose new passwords that are very unique and not easily guessed. This will maintain privacy and ensure access to all accounts.
Being alone is not the worst thing in the world. Make sure that there is time to heal from a broken marriage before jumping into a new one. Spend some time working on becoming the best you. Spend lots of time with family and friends doing things that you like to do, as you rebuild your life as a single person again.