5 steps to prepare for a stress-free divorce

Amy Schultz
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Divorce is heartbreaking. It is the death of a dream, a marriage, and the plans you had for your future. And to make matters worse, you’re left to clean up a legal, emotional, spiritual and financial mess.

While we don’t plan to get divorced, it’s more common than you might think.

That 50% statistic you’ve probably heard? It’s true. And women take the bigger financial hit with income falling by 33% compared to 18% for men. 

If you’re there now, this sucks. But you will survive. If you commit to small, daily changes and connect with others in vulnerable relationships, you will come out stronger. We’ve put together this divorce checklist to help you care for yourself, your finances and your future.

1. Take Care of Yourself

The stresses of a divorce can take a toll on your mental and physical health. This means it’s important to take care of yourself before, during, and after divorce proceedings. It is vital that you reduce stress in all areas of your life. In addition to spending time with friends and family, consider reducing work stressors by decreasing your workload or even switching jobs if possible. Also consider seeking out counseling or other self-help services that can help you cope with changes in your life brought about by divorce.

2. Build Your Team and Support System

Friends make everything easier. If you have family or friends who are willing to help with your divorce process, even if only emotionally or psychologically, take advantage. The more support you have before diving into litigation, the better off you’ll be in the long run. 

When it comes to divorce, there’s often more than just you and your spouse at stake. There’s real money on the line—and property and custody issues that need resolving in a way that works best for everyone involved. Find yourself a lawyer, an accountant and any other support you might need in order to get through these stressful times. 

Let each person help in appropriate ways. Your attorney is not your therapist. Your therapist is not your friend. Your friend is not your attorney (unless they really are an attorney). Instead of unfairly expecting people to do things they can’t, stick to the expertise they can give in their specific areas.

3. Identify Your Personal Property

Part of divorce is deciding who gets what. It’s tempting to take personal property to punish your spouse. But don’t. Everyone loses that way, even you. So be fair and have integrity.

Make an list of your personal property so you don’t get taken advantage of. Determine what items in your home are considered marital property. List each item and its value, gather any relevant paperwork, then top it off with a photo so you have proof of what you own.

4. Organize Your Legal Documents

The most obvious step in your divorce preparation is organizing your legal documents. Don’t just stick them in a box and hope you find them when you need them! Make copies of everything, gather all supporting documents, and keep a copy at work or with a friend so it doesn’t get lost. Take photos of your originals with your smartphone, too.

5. Get Your Finances in Order

Start by gathering financial documents. You already gathered some financial documents with your personal info. But now it’s time to take a deep dive into every category of your money from your bank account details to any other investments and debts.

Start separating your finances. When you get married, “his” and “hers” becomes “ours,” but during a divorce, you have to draw new boundaries to protect yourself and your money. Get your own checking and savings accounts and reroute your paychecks there immediately.

Get More Support

Connect with a Money Coach who can help you set new goals by teaching you how to win with money. And even on the hard days, remember there is hope. You’ll be amazed at where you go and what you do when you complete this divorce checklist. 

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