Most people considering divorce tend to postpone filing until after the holidays to lessen the disruption on the family. While this makes for a more pleasant holiday on the surface, the internal stress can be overwhelming. Getting a divorce is a big life change and even if you are postponing filing for divorce until after the holidays, there are steps you should take now to make the process smoother.
Get Your Financial Affairs in Order
Prior to filing you’ll want to collect the following items:
- Social security numbers of your spouse and children;
- Tax returns;
- Bank account numbers and statements;
- Credit card statements;
- Investment account numbers and statements;
- Mortgage and home equity loan statements; and
- Car loans and titles.
Be sure to make copies of these documents and leave them with someone you trust or keep them in a safe deposit box.
Know Where You Stand When it Comes to Your Credit
Get a credit report to see if there’s any unusual activity on joint accounts. Are there accounts your spouse opened in both of your names without your knowledge? Once you have the results of your credit report, be sure to carefully monitor your credit periodically to prevent your spouse from hiding assets after you’ve filed for divorce.
Start Building Your Own Financial Identity
To establish credit as a single person, you’ll want to open savings, checking, and credit accounts in your own name. To avoid an accidental commingling of funds, it’s best to use a different bank or credit union than where your joint accounts with your spouse are held. Once you’ve established your separate account, it’s a good idea to have direct deposits and critical automatic payments changed so they are coming to/from your new account. Many people postpone this critical step only to realize the importance of having a separate account when their spouse suddenly withdraws the balance, stops paying bills, or the account is garnished to pay for a debt the spouse has incurred.
Put Together a Post-Divorce Budget
Most people fail to plan for the reality of their financial situation during and after divorce. Consider all of the ways your finances may change. Will you start working and need daycare? Will your spouse move to another residence or will you both remain in the marital home? How will you pay for attorney fees and court costs? How will you and your spouse split the bills? By determining your expected monthly income and expenses, you’ll have a much better idea of how much spousal and child support you may need.
Be Flexible…and Thankful!
Flexibility is a must if you have children. Remember, your lives are changing dramatically. It’s a stressful time for the entire family, and flexibility can go a long way in releasing the tension. So carefully pick your battles, be willing to compromise, and be thankful for all of the positives in your life.
A cheerful heart is good medicine! ~ Proverbs 17:22
Make New Traditions
For the sake of your children, as well as yourself, direct your energy into making new traditions. Use your support system of family and friends. Take care of yourself by making an extra effort to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat right.
Remember That You’re Not Alone
Divorce is a difficult process emotionally, financially, and legally and you’ll need help from professionals who can navigate you through it. It’s a good idea to get referrals from trusted friends and family for qualified therapists and financial planners. Such professionals can help make a life-changing event like divorce less stressful and overwhelming. Most importantly, you’ll need guidance from an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
If you’d like more information on how you can prepare for divorce, give us a call at 314.499.1476 to schedule a confidential consultation.