If you are considering a divorce, here are some things to think about as part of your pre-divorce planning. Having this information prior to an attorney consultation can also help make that process more effective and specific!
Define Your Goals
You don’t have to be overly specific (yet); write out important things that you are looking to achieve. This will help you determine (later) how you will proceed through the divorce process. If you are not ready to consider long-term changes, just plan for short and mid-term goals.
Identify Your Financial Situation
Being through will help you make good decisions if you decide to proceed with a divorce. A good exercise would be to complete a rough draft of the Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit from the Florida Supreme Court. You should identify the following:
If you decide to get a divorce, you’ll want this list to decide how to deal with all assets, liabilities and how to separate your joint income and expenses into two households. This will also help determine if any spousal support is justified.
Create Event Calendar
Keep a detailed journal of any significant events that may happen within your family that could be important during a divorce. You can do this on a calendar or in a journal format. Examples might be arguments, purchases, co-parenting issues, agreements with spouse, dates of separation, etc. Write out a historical timeline if there are things that have happened in the past you haven’t written down yet.
Avoid Large Purchases
Every situation is unique but making large purchases might complicate a divorce or limit some of your options.
Use Words Carefully
Be careful what you put in writing; it can be used against you later. This includes text messaging, social media and emails.
We have seen many people who have written things that they later regret doing; be extra careful if you are considering a divorce.
Secure Important Information
Make sure any documents, email, telephone and electronic items that you use for divorce planning are private and secure. Use accounts with strong passwords that your family and friends won’t have access to. Change passwords if you have any doubt.
Consider Putting Money Aside
Depending upon your situation, it may make sense to try to put money aside to prepare for a divorce. Money might be needed to start a second household, pay off debts, pay for legal, financial, childcare, or mental health professionals.
Take Care Of Yourself
Eat right and exercise. We have seen people make terrible decisions during divorce in part because they have let themselves deteriorate mentally and physically.
Write Out Questions
As you are contemplating divorce, keep a written list of questions you have about divorce no matter how big or small. Separate them into legal, financial and mental health questions. If you move forward with the process, you should get those questions answered by your own research or professional advice. It’s difficult to remember them all, so write them down!
Identify A Divorce Counselor
Divorce is a process you are probably not experienced with. Identifying a mental health professional to help you navigate this highly emotional and personal process is a great option. Questions like why does my spouse do xyz, or what is best for my children, how to I handle my (or my spouse’s) anger, how do I explain this to my children? Questions like these should be answered by an experienced counselor, not an attorney, financial planner or friend.
If you are religious or spiritual, speak with a spiritual counselor who shares your values and faith!
Many times, it makes sense to have a consultation with an experienced mental health counselor before meeting with other professionals involved in the process.
Have A Legal Consultation
Once you are seriously considering a divorce, please get a legal consultation so you will understand your legal rights and obligations. Even if you choose a DIY divorce, having a solid foundation on the law and how it applies to your situation will be helpful in making good decisions!