Perhaps you’ve been secretly fantasizing about divorce. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship and spend most of your day trying to figure out how to get out of your marriage. Before initiating anything, there are some important realities you need to know.
“That’s not me,” you’re saying. “Even though things aren’t perfect, we would never split.” That’s what a lot of women think. Then they’re blindsided. What if your partner initiates a divorce that you never saw coming. Maybe you should read this even if you don’t think it pertains to you, just in case.
1. Know where the money is.
Divorce gets ugly. Fast. That man who absolutely worships you today may try to hide assets from you tomorrow. Make sure you know where all the money is, and where all the debt is. If an asset (or a liability) was acquired during the marriage, then it is marital. That is, it belongs to both of you. If you bought something before the marriage, then your spouse has no claim to it, and vice versa. That goes for debt that was acquired before the marriage also.
2. Keep a journal.
Should you be faced with a split one day, you’ll be happy you have a record of what happened when (and so will your lawyer). It’s a simple enough thing to do: just keep a notebook in your bag or next to your bed, and get into the habit of recapping the day’s events. Something that seems unimportant now may turn out to be just the piece of evidence you need to prove your case.
3. Have a 3-month emergency fund.
Maybe you have a friend or family member who would be willing and able to keep you afloat for three months. But if you don’t, then you should squirrel away enough money to last you (and your children) at least three months. I know, I know, I just finished talking about how he may hide assets from you, and now I’m telling you to do the same thing. But this is a safeguard to protect you and your children in the short term; it is not intended to keep what’s rightfully his away from him. See the difference? And why three months? Because that’s about how long it will take for a court to issue and enforce a temporary child support order.
4. Research divorce lawyers now.
Know who the best matrimonial attorney in your area and price range is. Be ready to retain him or her as soon as it becomes necessary. (That means having a minimum of $5000 cash on hand.) If you wait until you’re in the middle of it to start googling and asking friends, your husband may have snagged THE guy or gal, and you’re left with inferior representation. Also, it takes time to do the proper level of research, and that’s exactly what you won’t have. I’ve known people who have had an initial introductory session (many times at no charge) with a top attorney JUST IN CASE they ever found themselves in a divorce situation. That way the attorney is precluded from taking the other side’s case because that initial session had already taken place. Yes, that seems pretty pessimistic, and I’m not saying that it’s for everyone, but I am just saying.
5. Divorce is a marathon, not a sprint.
It can (and usually does) take a lot longer than you’d think. Mine took six years! Don’t think you’ll be in and out and onto the next thing so fast. Be ready for a long haul. You’ll need to be in peak shape (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually) to go the distance. Things will be coming at you at lightning speed. You’ll have to make decisions that will affect you and your children’s lives forever. You’ll have to be there for your children in ways you never imagined. So if you think divorce is on your horizon, start preparing yourself now. The best way to get help doing this is with a qualified divorce coach. The right coach can help you gain clarity around what the best possible outcome would be for you and your entire family, and help you devise an action plan to get you there. And he or she can do this while also monitoring your physical, mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being. It’s the first (and smartest) investment you should make when embarking on divorce.
Congratulations! You are now better-educated and better-prepared for what lies ahead than most women getting a divorce. These five items can make the difference between barely surviving your divorce and totally thriving during and long after the papers are signed.