If you’re considering divorce but are waiting until after the holidays before you file, you are not alone. Many people plan on filing for divorce in January. While you wait, however, there are a few things you can get done that will make the process easier once you do decide to file:
- Hire an attorney. Even if you think your divorce will be amicable and uncontested, you still need to understand your obligations and protect your interests. Choose two or three candidates who have significant experience and knowledge about divorce and family law. Meet with each one and choose the lawyer you feel most comfortable with.
- Set up a support system. Divorce can be stressful for anyone, even if you are the one filing. You can’t afford to vent your emotions on social media or in front of the kids, so you will need someone trustworthy to talk to. Choose a friend or family member and also consider getting a therapist.
- Catalog your property. Some property is yours alone, while most of it is probably community property, which is owned by both spouses. Start making a list of what you think is separately yours and another list of valuables you share with your ex. Estimate their value.
- Start collecting legal and financial documents. Pull together your marriage license, five years’ of tax returns, any mortgages or real estate deeds, any founding documents for a family business or professional practice, any prenuptial agreements you may have signed, insurance policies and your estate plan. You may need these during the divorce process.
- Begin the process of separating your shared accounts and changing your passwords. As part of the divorce, you will need to close any shared or joint accounts and open new ones in your name only. Change your social media passwords and any other passwords on accounts you would like to keep private.
- Decide how to approach your ex. You may wish to wait until after the holidays to address the issue, but you’ll want to know what you plan to say. Talk it over with your therapist or a trusted friend.
- Start planning preliminary support and parenting arrangements. During your divorce, you may want separate residences. You may need alimony or child support to begin right away. You need to plan where your children will live and how to share parenting time with your divorcing spouse. Your spouse will have their own opinions, but it’s useful to have a starting point.
Paying attention to these vital details now can make starting the divorce process go much more smoothly. Divorce is rarely easy, but preparation can make it more bearable.