9 Things to Do If You're Considering Divorce
If you’re considering divorce, it’s completely normal to feel a host of emotions: uncertainty, fear, stress, and maybe even relief. Divorce is a significant life change. You’re not just ending a marriage; you’re setting the stage for your future.
Given all of this, here are some crucial things to think about as you contemplate your next steps.
1. Think about where you will live
Staying in your marital home may provide a sense of stability and continuity, especially if children are involved. But it may also prolong your emotional distress, especially if tensions run high.
Moving out might offer a fresh start and necessary emotional distance. However, it costs money to move, and a change of residence could disrupt your kids’ routines.
Renting a separate place, staying with family or friends, or even finding a temporary residence are all viable options. Each has advantages and drawbacks.
2. Think about custody of kids and pets
If you have children or pets, their well-being will undoubtedly be at the forefront of your mind when considering a divorce. This decision can significantly impact their lives, so it's crucial to approach this with sensitivity and careful consideration.
For children, the primary concern is usually custody arrangements. There are various options like joint custody, sole custody, and shared parenting time. Consider what would serve the best interest of the child, providing stability and minimizing disruption.
Pets, too, can become a significant point of discussion. Some couples treat pets as family members, and determining their custody can be an emotionally charged process. You might consider shared custody. Or, one person might retain ownership while the other has visitation rights.
3. Consider reconciliation or therapy
Sometimes, amidst the emotional turmoil, it's easy to overlook the possibility of reconciliation. If there's still love and respect in your relationship, and if both partners are willing to work on their issues, reconciliation might be worth considering.
Therapy, particularly couples counseling, can be instrumental in this process. It provides a safe zone where you can both express how you’re feeling and learn ways to deal with your conflicts. Therapy can help address major issues like communication breakdowns, trust violations, and differing life goals.
Considering reconciliation doesn't mean you're weak or indecisive. It simply means you're exploring all options before making a life-altering decision. However, the choice ultimately lies with you. Do what feels right and leads to your long-term happiness and well-being.
4. Make financial preparations
Begin by understanding your current income, expenses, and individual assets. If you don't already have one, consider opening a separate bank account in your name to establish financial independence.
Also consider setting aside funds for legal expenses and related costs. Divorces can be expensive; having a financial cushion can alleviate some of the stress.
Building a strong credit history independently, if you haven't done so already, is a wise move. Your credit score matters when you apply for loans or credit cards in the future.
5. Understand your marital assets and debts
Having a clear picture of your marital property and debt is a significant step when contemplating a divorce. Marital assets include everything acquired during the marriage: homes, vehicles, investments, and even retirement accounts. Debts, on the other hand, could be mortgages, credit card balances, and loans taken out during the marriage.
Knowing these figures is crucial for two reasons. First, it provides a clear picture of your financial health as a couple. Second, these assets and debts are typically divided during the divorce process, so knowing what they entail can help you anticipate potential outcomes.
Each state has its own divorce laws that dictate how property should be divided. Read Equitable Distribution States vs. Community Property States to learn more. If you need help coming up with a settlement agreement you both like, learn about how to find a divorce mediator here.
6. Assemble a support network
Having a network of support can give you the comfort and guidance you need to see you through this process.
Your support network may include trusted friends or family who provide emotional support, listening without judgment and offering help when needed. If you know people who have gone through divorce themselves, you may benefit from having them on your “team,” as they can provide insights and share their experiences.
Professional support is also crucial. A therapist or counselor can help you navigate your feelings, while a lawyer and financial advisor can guide you through the legal and financial aspects of divorce.
What is a divorce coach? Learn more here.
7. Think about your future living expenses
What about your financial future? This includes not just the immediate aftermath of divorce, but also your long-term picture.
Consider your housing situation. Will you need to move to a new home? What would rent payments or a new mortgage payment cost you? How about utilities and maintenance expenses?
Factor in expenses like groceries, health insurance, transportation, and personal care. Don't forget to include any debts or child support payments you'll be responsible for.
If you're not currently working, or if your income is significantly lower than your spouse's, think about potential career opportunities or educational pursuits that could boost your earning potential. You may also need to consider filing for spousal support (alimony), the laws for which vary by state.
8. Keep your emotions in check
Keeping your emotions in check during a divorce is crucial, albeit challenging. It's natural to feel a whirlwind of emotions: anger, sadness, confusion, and even relief. But you have to manage these feelings as you navigate the legal processes of divorce.
Intense emotions can cloud your judgment, leading to impulsive decisions that may prolong the divorce process. Try to approach your discussions and decisions with calm and rationality. Remember, the decisions made during this time will impact your life significantly – particularly regarding finances and child custody.
A therapist or counselor can be beneficial in helping you learn ways to manage this emotional turmoil. They can provide strategies that help you cope with stress and maintain a level-headed approach.
It's okay to feel, and it's okay to seek help. You're going through a significant life change.
9. Care for your physical health
Taking care of your physical health during a divorce is incredibly important. As you navigate this emotionally taxing time, it's easy to neglect your physical well-being. However, your physical health is closely tied to your emotional resilience.
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals. Don’t skip them due to stress or a lack of appetite.
- Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, even if it’s just a daily walk. Physical activity is a great stress reliever.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. A lack of sleep can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression, making it harder to cope.
Taking care of yourself isn't just about maintaining your strength during the divorce process; it's about laying the groundwork for a healthier, happier future post-divorce. You're worth this investment in yourself.
Each divorce case is different, but at Hello Divorce, we’re here for anyone who asks for help. That’s why we offer a free 15-minute phone call to anyone who is interested in learning about what we have to offer, from online divorce plans to legal advice.