Preparing for Divorce: 7 Crucial First Steps


Divorce isn’t something to be taken lightly, and because of that the process leading up to it often involves months of thinking, debating, and finally making the decision to move forward. Then, once you’ve made the difficult decision to get divorced, you have to take the actual steps toward doing it, which can be just as hard and often confusing.

Divorce impacts everything from your finances to your social life, and each change affects another area of your life in some way. If you’re not sure what you’re doing as far as the divorce process, it makes it that much harder. Once you’ve decided a divorce is the best thing for you, there are several steps you should take to move toward making it a reality. Having the knowledge of which steps to take and when will help make the whole process much easier.

1.  Focus on yourself

It’s going to be hard to keep your emotions in check throughout the divorce process, but try to spend some time getting yourself emotionally stable. Think about your life now and your life post-divorce, and make sure it’s what you really want. Make peace with the fact that your life will change. Have a basic plan for how you will move forward with work, finances, housing,  seeing your children, and other life elements that will change. Thinking all of this through makes you more prepared for emotional conversations with everyone from your kids to your lawyer.

2. Gain some knowledge

The more you know about divorce, the easier the process will be. You’ll also probably have an easier time getting things you want or need from your ex-spouse and/or the court. A good family lawyer will help you immensely, but you should also do research on your own, determine what you want, will need, and what you can let go of, and do not just trust that a judge or anyone else will have your best interest in mind.

3. Determine what really matters

Know ahead of time what matters to you most in the divorce and come up with a strategy. You don’t want to get pushed around during the process because you’re making decisions in the moment. Know what you need from the divorce, how you will conduct your life going forward, and make a plan to get it. Talk with your lawyer so you’re on the same page.

4. Have a “during” plan as well as a future plan

Most people think about what they will do post-divorce as far as where they will live, how insurance will work, how they’ll take care of children, and on and on. But people often forget to think about what to do during the divorce. Divorce can take months (in some cases years), so you need a plan for where you’re going to live and who is going to pay for what until it’s finalized. Having a plan for this period–even for small details like who will pay for groceries–gives more mental capacity for handling bigger issues throughout the process.

5. Gather your financial information

One of the most annoying parts about divorce is all the paperwork you need. Start collecting and organizing things like bank account information, tax records, and debt records early to make it go as quickly as possible.

6. Tell your spouse you want a divorce

We know this part seems obvious, and maybe even like the first step. However, once you tell your spouse you want a divorce, things can become emotional, and you won’t be the only one controlling how they turn out. Having as much as you can prepared ahead of time, especially in terms of copies of your shared financial records,  will help make the conversation easier, and put you in a better mindset going forward.

7. Build a divorce team

Your divorce team will determine how smooth the process goes, so you want a team that’s experienced and on your side. Retaining a family attorney at Schiffman Family Law, a small practice, will ensure that you will work directly with your attorney as he is the one that will be invested in the handling of your case and care about every detail, and also be available when you have questions or need to talk things through. You should also ask the advice of your attorney and possibly hire a financial coach, potentially a therapist, and definitely enlist the support of your most trusted close friends and family to help you through the process.

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce but aren’t sure where to begin, Schiffman Family Law can help. Set up a free one-hour consultation with Mike Schiffman today.

Mike will answer your questions, explain your options and provide you with the necessary information so you may make an informed decision about your options going forward.