If you suspect that you’re heading for a divorce, you’re not alone. Many people can tell that their marriage is struggling long before they decide to file for divorce.
Even if you’re not committed to ending your marriage, this time before you make things official can be valuable. You can prepare for a divorce before you file and simplify the process significantly.
Prepare Before Filing for Divorce
Preparing for your split can help you avoid many of the biggest struggles of ending a marriage.
Divorce is rarely simple. Untangling your life from your spouse takes a lot of legal and emotional work. Most people find that they run into problems like:
- Navigating the legal system, including filing documents on time, scheduling court dates, and arguing your case
- Fairly dividing your assets with your spouse according to your state’s divorce laws
- Arguing over your estate, such as how your wills should be changed after the split
- Planning for your future, including where you’ll live and how you’ll support yourself
- Fighting for custody of your children while keeping their best interests in mind
- Staying safe and protecting children if your partner is abusive
All of these issues can be minimized if you plan ahead. If you suspect divorce is inevitable, you can start preparing to make your split as simple as possible.
How to Prepare for Your Divorce
In many ways, you can prepare for a divorce the same way you prepared for marriage. They are both legal processes that affect your life, finances, and obligations. With these five tips, you can make transitioning into your new single life almost as simple as getting married in the first place.
Learn How the Divorce Process Works
Before you file for your split, you should understand what you’re about to get into. Research what’s involved in getting divorced so you know what to expect each step of the way. Understanding how this works can help you avoid mistakes and control your expectations for your split.
Compared to getting married, divorcing takes more work simply because of the legal issues involved. Depending on your marriage, there may be up to four major issues involved:
- Your actual marital status
- The division of your assets
- Payment of spousal support
- The custody of your children
After you get married, you and your spouse officially share the new assets you bring in. That includes everything from the salaries you earn to the investments you make to the property you buy. Many divorces take so long because you need to divide these assets fairly according to your state’s laws.
Alongside the division of assets, you may need to hash out spousal support or alimony. If you and your spouse have a significant income disparity, the lower-earning partner can petition the court to order the higher-earning partner to pay support to them each month.
If you have children, you also need to determine where they will live and when. You will probably need to make a parenting plan and calculate child support.
Changing your marital status is the easy part. Once everything else is finalized, the judge will declare you legally single in the divorce decree.
Organize Your Finances
Once you know how the process works, you can start preparing for it. While you can’t do everything in advance, you can streamline your split by getting your finances in order. Since asset division is often the most challenging part of your split, anything you can do to simplify the process will help you in the long run.
There are two ways to manage your finances before a split. First, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, you can get a postnuptial agreement instead. A postnuptial agreement accomplishes everything a prenup can, but you can write them after you’ve gotten married. You can use these contracts to outline how assets will be divided in your split, whether spousal support will be awarded, and more.
Second, you should make sure any large purchases or sales are finished before you file for divorce. Most states block you from taking major financial actions like buying or selling a home or business during a divorce. Wrap up these transactions now so you don’t have problems after filing.
Think About Your Future
Your divorce should make your life better in the long run. The best way to make sure that happens is by thinking about what you want from your future. Answer questions like:
- Where will you live after the split?
- How will you support yourself?
- What will your new budget look like?
- Are any assets you currently own crucial to your new life?
- What do you want the custody agreement to look like if you have children?
Be as specific and realistic as possible when answering these questions. The more clearly you can envision the outcome of your divorce, the better you can plan for it. It can also make the process less intimidating when you know what to expect at the other end.
Understand Your Options
There are several ways you can choose to end your marriage. The method you choose will depend on your circumstances and your spouse. Your options include:
- Mediation: If you and your spouse can still work together and just need a little help hashing out the details of your divorce, you can work with a mediator. This is a neutral third party who will work with you and your lawyers to help you find a satisfactory settlement.
- Arbitration: Arbitration works similarly to mediation, but the arbitrator has the power to make legally binding decisions for both of you. If you want to negotiate your split but want a neutral third party to have the final say over what’s fair, arbitration can be a good option.
- Public court: Going to court is the most common solution for contested divorces or splits where spouses can’t agree on what to do. In this case, your divorce is heard by a public judge during a hearing or trial. They make the final decisions about the details of your split. Public divorces can take a long time to resolve since they require you to schedule things based on the court’s availability.
Source = Brent Kaspar