You have decided this divorce needs to happen. Now what do you do? Prepare yourself. The following are some steps to take before you pull the trigger and set things in motion.
Take care of deferred needs like dental work, new eye glasses, replace the tires, fix the roof, etc. Money is going to get tight, real soon, so better to know these things are taken care of.
On the other hand, you will need to save some cash for the expenses of the divorce process: hiring professionals like a financial advisor, attorney, and therapist to help you get through this painful and complex process; possible moving expenses; replacing household furnishings, etc.
Copy all financial documents of any kind that you can access safely. Put copies in a secure place, preferably under lock and key, maybe at work or with a friend. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, credit reports, retirement accounts, pensions, investment accounts, tax returns and all accompanying documents required to prepare the returns.
Open a new bank account for yourself at a bank not previously used by you or your spouse. You will need a place to safely deposit money without having it be accessible to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. This is only to assure that funds are available when you need them, not to conceal funds. Expect to properly disclose this account during the divorce process.
Check your credit report and assure that you have at least two credit cards registered individually to you in your own name. If that is not the case, apply for what you need now and provide total household income information on the application.
Begin to see a therapist, if you are not already doing so, to help you through the decision-making process, as well as the divorce itself, and ultimately recovery. There is no such thing as “tough it out” when life gets downright painful. Remember, therapy is private and confidential. The only one who will tell anyone else is you.
Schedule an initial consult with a divorce financial advisor to share specifics of your financial concerns and get some preliminary indications of what you should be considering.
Interview attorneys for legal perspective as well as identify what will matter most to you regarding the qualifications and personalities of an attorney with whom you can feel confident and comfortable. This will become a very personal relationship and you may require some specialized legal expertise, like military benefits, domestic violence experience, children with special needs, etc.
Research all professionals whom you are considering hiring for your divorce with particular attention to whether they have proper licensing, have they ever been subject to professional disciplinary action, and practice reputations. For instance, if your desire is to have an amicable divorce, you do not want to hire a pit bull attorney. If you want to have solid financial advice, do not hire someone who does divorce math as a hobby because they themselves had such a painful divorce.
Read all you can to prepare, but remember, there are just as many poor writings out there as there are good. And very difficult to tell the difference. Choose only reputable publications or websites to read, attend any live workshops in your area where presenters are willing to expose themselves to scrutiny, rather than hide behind an anonymous webpage.
This should get you off to a good start for what will not really be a good experience. However, commend yourself on seeing that where you are now is not good either, and a divorce will lead you to a better situation.