how to prepare for divorce

Divorce Strategies To Know Before Filing

Goldberg JonesDivorce, Divorce Process 1 Comment

There’s a reason people call it “the divorce process.” You’re probably anxious to get the ball rolling. But remember, ending a marriage is a long, complicated endeavor, one with a ton of moving parts. This makes it important to have divorce strategies in place.

Divorce has a massive impact on your future, influencing everything from finances to your living situation to how much you see your kids. Not only that, ending a marriage is a highly emotional time and we don’t always think rationally.

Strategies To Prepare For A Divorce

Odds are, divorce isn’t a surprise. You’ve likely sensed it was coming or considered it for some time. Because of this, you have plenty of time to prepare and figure out what divorce strategies to use.

Maybe this means talking to an attorney ahead of time, getting your finances in order, or figuring out exactly what you need and want from a settlement. There’s a great deal you can do to make sure you’re ready.

Following that train of thought, here are some things to do before filing for divorce. This list is far from exhaustive, and every case is different, but this checklist is a solid starting point.

Related Reading: How Long Does Divorce Take?

Know The Laws In Your State

Laws governing the dissolution of marriage vary from state to state, often in substantial ways. Before pursuing divorce, hit pause and make sure to educate yourself on the specific laws of your state.

  • Do you know how assets are divided in Washington?
  • Do you know what are considered assets in a divorce?
  • Did you know that things like airline miles, appliances, and even professional licenses can be considered assets?
  • Do you have debt?
  • Do you have pets?
  • How do you approach child custody?
  • What factors are taken into account when it comes to figuring out child support?
  • Will spousal support payments be necessary following your divorce?
  • Will you need temporary orders?
  • Do you have an inheritance?
  • Do you have life insurance or retirement benefits such as social security or a pension?
  • Are you in the military?

These are just some of the things that often impact the look of the final divorce settlement.

Related Reading: The Importance Of Jurisdiction in Divorce

Know when to fight and when not to

Is fighting over your extensive bobblehead collection more important than working out a favorable custody arrangement? Probably not, but people can and often do squabble over just about anything in divorce.

Take a moment to honestly assess what’s most important to you and focus your energy on that.

Don’t be a doormat, but know where you’re willing to compromise if necessary. Save the fight for what matters most. No one wants to spend $1000 in fees bickering over things of little consequence.

Related Reading: What is Divorce Mediation?

Save Money

This probably won’t come as a shock, but divorce can be expensive. Even in simple, uncontested divorces, it costs money to submit the paperwork. From there the expenses only pile up.

And the more complex the case, the more expensive it gets.

Every time you appear in court or at mediation, file or respond to a motion, or pretty much do anything, there’s a cost. Add to that temporary orders, like child support, spousal maintenance, and even setting up a new household.

Before a divorce, set aside money to offset these and other unexpected costs that pop up. It’s better than getting blindsided.

Related Reading: Dividing Debt in Washington State

Be Organized

With all the moving parts, divorce comes with a great deal of detail. You have court appearances, meetings with attorneys, mediation, and other places to be. You’ll likely have to take some time off work.

You have to submit various pieces of paperwork to the opposition and collect others for your case. In addition to that, there are forms on top of forms to fill out, and you need ready access to all the pertinent information.

To be blunt, dissolving a marriage is a mess of details. Before the divorce, take the time to organize everything. Sure, it’s a pain in the moment, but in the long run, the organization saves you time and hassle.

Related Reading: How to File for Divorce in Washington

Get Your Financial Records Together

A big part of being organized is collecting all of your financial records. The division of property is where you split up all shared assets and debts. You need to disclose everything.

  • Collect all the related documents, including all accounts, 401(k)s, pensions, insurance policies, and tax records.
  • Assemble any debts, including car payments, mortgages, student loans, credit card bills, and anywhere else you owe.
  • List significant assets, homes, boats, real estate, jewelry, and even furniture.
  • It may even help to break down your work, time, and financial contributions to the marriage.

This has a huge impact on the next phase of your financial life, so before divorce, get your books in order.

Related ReadingAre Divorce Records Public?

Take Stock Of Assets/Debts

Know as much as you can about the state of your collective finances.

  • How much do you make?
  • How much does your spouse earn?
  • Do you have anything that might be considered seperate property or debt?

Figure out where you owe money and which assets are most valuable. Examine old tax returns, find out about retirement funds, and learn everything there is to know. Financial strategies play a large part in your divorce.

Related Reading: High-Asset Divorce

Protect Your Credit

Divorcing doesn’t automatically alter the financial agreements you and your spouse entered into while married.

Home loans, car loans, anything with both of your names on it stays that way unless you make the change.

Divorce agreements often stipulate your ex must make certain payments or refinance loans to remove your name. If that happens, great. But if not, it can negatively impact you and your credit.

It never hurts to keep an eye on things to make sure nothing fishy is going on.

Related Reading: Rebuild Your Credit After Divorce

Divorce Strategies For The Kids

Divorce can be complicated enough as it is, but when there are kids, it gets even more complex.

Emotions become heated and tempers flare. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with topics like how your state decides child custody and visitation, and how it calculates child support.

If you and your spouse live in separate places, you may need a temporary custody plan. The court may even order temporary child support.

Not only must their daily, regular needs be met—someone has to get them to school—it’s also vital to keep tabs on their emotional well-being during this time. Do you have a plan to look after their mental health?

Related Reading: Learn More About Child Custody in Washington

Hire A Divorce Attorney

Those who want to take a do-it-yourself approach to end their marriage have more resources now than ever before. But even the simplest, most straightforward cases can become twisted and tangled in short order.

Hiring an experienced divorce attorney to help guide you through the process can be invaluable. This is a crazy, hectic time, and a calm, cool head can suggest divorce strategies, keep raging emotions in check, and steer you towards an optimal outcome.

Related Reading: When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Enlist Support

Ending a marriage is a huge change and maybe the most chaotic, stressful time of your life. If you’re going to make it through intact, you need a support system in place.

It’s easy to fall into bad habits, like drinking too much and eating junk food because it’s simple and quick. Knowing who you can rely on to help keep you stable is important.

  • Who do you turn to for advice, both legal and personal?
  • For financial help?
  • Or who watches the kids while you meet with an attorney or appear in court?

Also remember, while your attorney is on your side, they’re not your therapist. Have people to talk to when things get tough. This may be family or friends, or even professionals and support groups. It’s often enough to know you’re not in this completely alone.

Related Reading: Should You File for Divorce First?

Strategies For After Your Divorce Is Final

Down in the trenches, fighting the daily fight, it’s easy to lose sight of what comes next. Maybe you just want to get through this and put it behind you. Having strategies in place to move forward helps do just that.

Think about life on the other side. What are you going to do that you couldn’t do before? How’s your life going to improve? A little optimism goes a long way.

You also have practical concerns to consider. Finances change. You may have to pay child or spousal support, your tax status goes from married to single, and you may have to pay all the bills from a single paycheck for the first time.

If you have kids, the custody arrangement and visitation impact your schedule and likely your living situation. Before the divorce, take steps to plan for a new budget, new schedule, new home, and other changes.

Going in with a divorce strategy helps smooth out the process. These are just a few things you can do before divorce to ease financial worries, support your case, and make sure you look after your best interests. This list is by no means comprehensive, but these ideas are a good place to start.

Related Reading: What Is The Average Cost of Divorce in Washington?

Comments 1

  1. It makes a lot of sense why divorces aren’t usually a surprise. I only say that because of my aunt who is starting to seriously consider getting a divorce. It seems like it would be most helpful for her to consult with an attorney before taking action.

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