‘Tis the season to be jolly and yet, January is considered Divorce Month. Assuming that’s not because of a happy holiday past. Making the decision to divorce involves more than a simple choice, it’s a decision that impacts every aspect of your life. The decision to get divorced should never be made lightly, however, once the decision is made, it’s extremely important to have a plan in place. In fact, if you’re contemplating divorce, thinking through your plan will make a world of difference.
Before you get divorced, you want to make sure you’ve thought through as many things as possible to avoid surprises or at least be prepared if they arise. You can’t predict how your spouse will react, even in the most amicable of divorces. Pre-divorce planning will position you for a better divorce and ideally a better outcome after divorce.
One of the most emotional pieces of getting divorced is the worry of the impact on your children. If they are witnessing a very turbulent marriage, the divorce may be a relief to them, if they have no idea it’s coming, then the shock will have a deep impact. Research the best way to tell your children. Plan the conversations and be prepared for any number of reactions. Regardless of the cause of your breakup, how you divorce will impact your children for the rest of their lives.
Although the first piece of information clients need to provide their attorney or mediator is a Statement of Net Worth or some statement of your financial position, time and again, it’s the first and last time one spouse looks at their finances. Figure out what you spend and how much you’ll need to live post-divorce before you move forward. Knowing what your financial position is ahead of time will help you decide which process to use, what you will be negotiating for and what you’ll need to get you to a comfortable financial place after your divorce.
The family home is often the largest asset and is hugely emotional. Think about the reality of keeping the house. Can you afford it? Who will stay in the house, who will move out? Where will the other spouse live? There are many issues around the home that need to be thought through.
Regardless of which process you choose to get divorced, you must be aware of the laws in your state and what you are entitled to. Having this information will help you think through your options. You’ll know the guidelines for Child Support and Alimony, your rights to family assets and debts and how the laws apply under certain conditions in your state (for example, in some states adultery is grounds for divorce in others it makes no difference).
Divorce has many moving parts at the same time your mind will be clouded with emotions. Planning ahead will help you reduce the uncertainty, stay focused and hopefully, lead to a better divorce process.
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