How to Start Your Divorce Out Right – Crucial Dos and Don’ts

Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can go through. If you’ve never been through it before, it can be completely overwhelming and hard to know where to start. 

Many people begin their divorce by hiring a divorce attorney. However, enlisting an attorney to take control of your divorce can lead to an expensive, high-conflict battle. 

Here are crucial dos and don’ts so that you can start your divorce out right, avoid costly mistakes, and move forward to an amazing new chapter of your life:


Get control of your emotions

Divorce is 80% emotional, 10% legal and 10% financial. While getting good legal advice is important, it isn’t the first step that you should take when you’re going through a divorce. You’ll need to make sure that you can think through how you want to approach your divorce. 

Working with a therapist is one option if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression that’s significantly impacting your ability to function. If your anxiety is tied to your divorce, working with a divorce coach will help you assess your emotions and concerns, organize yourself and understand what options you have in your divorce process.

Organize your financial records

Gather your financial documents including tax returns, W-2s, bank and credit card statements, retirement accounts, etc. and start creating a budget so that you understand what your post-divorce income and expenses are. If the thought of doing this on your own keeps you up at night, a divorce financial professional is an excellent resource who can help you with this. 

Understand what’s most important to you

Do you want to stay in your house? Do you want a specific parenting plan? Where do you want your children to go to school? The decisions you make in your divorce will impact you and your children for years. You can’t fight for everything but if you know what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not willing to give up, you’ll have a better chance to come out of your divorce with a settlement agreement that you’re comfortable with. 

Need help with your divorce? Join Jill’s transformative group coaching program, Thriving Through Divorce.

Use a mediator

If at all possible, mediate your divorce if you and your spouse have one or more issues you need outside help resolving. An experienced mediator is a neutral professional who will help you and your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) come to an agreement on all the financial and parenting components of your divorce. This will allow you to have complete control of your divorce decisions and will set you and your soon-to-be ex up to have an amicable relationship going forward. In addition, mediation is much less expensive than going to court and litigating your divorce! 

Take care of yourself

Divorce can be a long and stressful process. Exercise, meditate, do yoga, spend time in nature, join a divorce support group, spend time with family and friends – whatever it is that brings you joy and reduces your stress.


Making emotional decisions

Divorce is scary and can evoke intense emotions. Making decisions based on anger, revenge or sadness can have long-lasting negative consequences. Take time to think through each decision with the help of a divorce professional if needed. 

Involving your children in adult issues

Avoid discussing the details of the divorce or expressing negative feelings about your soon-to-be ex in front of your children. Children love and feel a part of both parents. Shielding your children from conflicts and maintaining a stable home environment will minimize their emotional stress during this difficult time. 

Read Jill’s 8 Guidelines for Separated and Divorced Parents

Overreacting to your ex

You and your ex are both emotional. They may say something inappropriate like, “I’m never paying you anything!” or send a mean text that provokes you. 

Instead of reacting, try to use effective communication skills like focusing on solutions instead of blame, waiting before you respond to them, not getting defensive, and active listening. This will help build a foundation of understanding between you and your STBX, leading to more cooperative negotiations and an amicable future relationship.

Letting divorce consume your life

It’s so easy to get locked into a place where divorce is all that you’re thinking about. But divorce is a long process. It’s tempting to hide out at home and isolate yourself from the world. This is when you need your support network more than ever. Reach out to friends and family, travel, start a new hobby, and make sure that you’re doing things outside of your divorce. This can be the time to start on what will be your wonderful new life!

It’s important to start your divorce out right so that you avoid mistakes that can cost you time and money and negatively impact you and your children. If you get control of your emotions, become organized, know your priorities, and take care of yourself, you’ll be able to turn one of the most difficult experiences into the beginning of your amazing new life!

About the author

Jill Barnett Kaufman, is a Licensed Therapist, Divorce Coach & Co-parenting Expert. After going through her own difficult divorce, she made it her life’s mission to help others not have it as tough. She is the author of I’m Getting Divorced, Now What? which is the basis for her transformative group coaching program, Thriving Through Divorce. The Thriving program helps parents navigate the overwhelming process of divorce so that they can protect their children and finances and successfully get to an agreement without litigation, even when divorcing a difficult ex. Join her group here.

Jill is a Hello Divorce Trusted Partner. You can visit her page to learn more about her services here. If you are interested in her group coaching program, you can learn more here. Follow Jill on Instagram and Facebook, or join her free Facebook support group.

Contributing Writer
Jill is a Divorce and Co-Parenting Expert who helps people going through divorce achieve peace by providing support through the transformational Thriving Through Divorce Group Coaching Program. Her book, I'm Getting Divorced, Now What? is a guide to navigating your divorce with clarity so that you come out stronger.