This is it. You’ve officially decided. You and your partner have tried to talk things out and reignite the spark. You’ve even sat across from a therapist in hopes they could fix your relationship. Then came the dreaded divorce conversation, when you both reached the ultimate, conclusive end. It was agreed upon: “We’re getting divorced.”
Where do you go from here?
Although you both may be prepared for the dissolution of your relationship, many aren’t ready for what comes next, nor know what to expect. Every divorce presents a unique set of circumstances, however, there are several steps you can take to prepare for this imminent separation and the start of your new life.
1. Conduct Research
Before you jump into anything else, ready yourself for what’s to come. This starts with conducting research on how the process works. Seek out articles, read divorce-related books, and listen to top podcasts on the subject.
3 Books to Read if You’re Getting Divorced
- “Conscious Uncoupling: The 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After Getting Past Your Breakup”
- “Mom's House, Dad's House: Making Two Homes for Your Child”
3 Must-Listen Divorce Podcasts
2. Prepare Yourself Emotionally & Mentally
After deciding on divorce, you’ll likely go through a variety of emotions ranging from anger to relief. Most common are the five emotional stages of divorce: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To work through each of these stages and emotions, it’s best to seek support from family, friends, support groups, and professionals. A mental health professional such as a therapist or divorce coach can teach you skills to help you lower your emotional reactivity, provide guided breathing exercises, offer a new perspective, and provide overall support through the process.
3. Get Your Finances in Order
This step involves assessing your financial health, gathering documentation, and hiring any necessary financial advisors or forensic accountants. Prior to divorce, you should organize your financial portfolio, gather all financial documents, meet with a financial advisor, open a bank account, apply for a credit card, and make conservative decisions until your divorce is finalized. During this time it’s important to determine if you need a forensic accountant. If you think your spouse is hiding assets to save money on the divorce, hire one. You should also enlist a forensic accountant if your divorce involves high-value assets or your case is financially complex.
During the divorce, determine legal costs, work with your partner to split assets and debts, consider tax issues, and decide on child and spousal support. It’s important you compromise with your partner, talk things through, and avoid making petty financial moves. Once the divorce is finalized, you’ll make document and account changes, set a financial plan for the future, and invest.
4. Discuss Child-Related Matters
Unfortunately, children are often used as pawns throughout a divorce to emotionally injure one of the parents. In these situations, you’ll hear phrases such as “You’ll never see your children again” or “I’m taking the kids.” Not only does this emotionally destroy your partner, it impacts the children, as well. They begin to worry if they’ll ever see their mother or father again (if the relationship was positive and non-abusive). Some parents even try to turn their children against the other by lying and calling their ex names.
When you’re getting a divorce, avoid this behavior. Discuss child-related matters in a civil manner with your soon-to-be ex. Share custody if both parents are able and willing to care for the children equally. Compromise on scheduling and child support. Determine and implement the best co-parenting techniques to ensure your children seamlessly transition from single to double households.
5. Decide What to Do With the Marital Home
Next to the children, the marital home is typically one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Both partners have years of memories in the house, plus, keeping it ensures a smooth transition for the children. They can maintain the same environment and routines. Although neither party wants to get rid of the marital home, it’s critical you come to a consensus.
There are multiple options for the marital home: sell, co-own, or buyout your spouse. If you decide to sell, pay off the mortgage and split the proceeds. Co-owning the home is tricky and usually only employed for a set period of time until the home is sold. When co-owning, both spouses—whether both live inside or not—must split the expenses. The third option—buying out your spouse—involves one spouse purchasing the other party’s financial interest in the home. This can be done with cash, by refinancing the mortgage, or by trading other assets.
6. Build Your Divorce Team
When going through a divorce, it’s integral you not only have a supportive network of friends and family, but a team of dedicated divorce professionals with the expertise to strategically guide you. To build a well-rounded divorce team, ensure you have all aspects covered: legal, finance, real estate, and mental health.
Such professionals include:
Divorce Financial Planner
This expert prepares and analyzes financial statements, calculates support, determines tax impact, and provides financial recommendations.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)
CDFAs can help you avoid long-term divorce-related financial difficulties, assist with financial decisions, appear as an expert witness, and provide tax law knowledge.
Collaborative lawyers help families keep divorces out of the courtroom, creating compromises and solutions for both parties.
Certified Divorce Real Estate Professional (CDRE)
A CDRE understands the nuances of divorce and real estate, manages high-tension situations, remains neutral and diplomatic during decisions, and protects both spouses.
Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP)
A CDLP integrates the selected mortgage into long- and short-term financial and investment goals, minimizes taxes, and maximizes cash flow.
DivorceForce has created a comprehensive network of divorce professionals ready to assist you through the divorce process. Build your dream divorce team today!
Gregory C. Frank is the CEO and Founder of DivorceForce.