Are you thinking about divorce? You don’t know where to start? Don’t rush to the nearest divorce lawyer and file for divorce. You do not want to make a rushed decision based on fear and anxiety. Divorce is a big deal and requires careful planning and preparation. Here are 5 tips to help you plan your exit strategy before filing for divorce:
Get a Clear Picture of Your Finances
A clear picture of your finances is critical to ensuring you are prepared for what is ahead. I suggest you start by making a list of all assets and debts you currently have. It is also wise to order a copy of your credit report to see all your debts. You can get a free annual copy of your credit report online here. I have unfortunately seen several cases where a spouse discovers debts during a divorce they didn’t even know they had.
Create a Budget
You need to make a budget to have a clear understanding of what your monthly expenses and needs are. This budget does not have to be perfect but should be an average of what you and your spouse spends each month. There are tons of free resources available online that can help you create a budget. I recommend mint.com to my clients, which is a free app you can get on your smartphone that will track your spending automatically by linking to your bank accounts. You should also make a budget of how much money you think you will need once you live in a separate household from your spouse.
Gather Information and Documents
You will be required to exchange certain financial information with your spouse once you file for divorce. It is a good idea to get a head start and gather some of these documents before you file. This will also assist you with getting a clear picture of your finances and with creating a budget. You will also need documents to prove certain aspects your case. These documents may include, for example, bank statements, photographs, deeds, text messages, and emails. Once your divorce is filed, your spouse may try to delete or hide information that may be relevant to your case.
Set Up Your Support System
Talk to your closest friends and family before you file for divorce. You are going to need a support system to help you get through this. If there are kids involved, you may need to secure help with taking care of the kids while you’re working. You may also need to talk to your boss or supervisor about possibly changing your work schedule to accommodate your schedule with the kids.
Find Your Divorce Lawyer
You need to find an experienced divorce lawyer who can listen to your story, help you set realistic goals, and develop a strategy to get you there. You can better convey your needs to your lawyer if you have completed steps 1- 4 before setting your appointment. Once you have selected the best divorce lawyer for your case, you will be fully prepared to proceed with your divorce.