Deciding to divorce is one of the hardest decisions to make. Once you have made the decision, the work begins and can often be all consuming. When working with clients, one of the first things I advise is get organized.
Regardless of whether you are contemplating divorce, starting the process, or finalizing and moving forward, getting organized is necessary. Being organized and ready will make it that much easier on you. Having to scramble to gather the necessary documents only makes it more stressful. Getting divorced is stressful enough. Why add more?
Tips for getting ready:
- Get an expandable file folder.
Start gathering your monthly bills: utilities, food, recreation, credit card statements, bank statements, tax returns, mortgage information and your Will if you have one. Either place bills in the file or make copies. Have this information readily accessible for when you need it.
You may be asked to provide bank and credit card statements going back as far as 10 years. True story. Know what is available to you from your bank and credit card companies, both online and hard copies, so that you can plan accordingly.
- Create a simple spending spreadsheet.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. List your monthly spend and break it down to a weekly amount. Build in the calculations to ensure accuracy. You will need this for financial statements. Do not deflate or inflate the numbers. You need the real picture. If you have a budget you work with, you are ahead of the game.
If you aren’t a pro with Excel or haven’t used it, do not stress. There are lots of YouTube videos out there to help you figure out the basics of equations.
- Start saving money.
Evaluate your spending and cut where you can within reason. You don’t want to change your lifestyle drastically at this point however, knowing what you can live without is helpful.
Your finances will change. It’s best to have some savings of your own as you prepare.
- Clean up Social Media.
You do not want your crazy trip to Mexico or a friend’s Batcheler party to come back to haunt you.
If your divorce is acrimonious, I would suggest dropping off of all social media until you are on the other side. While it might be tempting to post pics of you getting out there and living your life, do not do it. I repeat, do not do it. Again, these things can come back to haunt you and the last thing you want is your soon-to-be ex, his/her attorney or the judge questioning your actions.
- Change your passwords to everything.
Everything, including your phone. Use a strong password. Do not use one you have used before. Use a sentence string. For example: Myfatherwasan0lympicSwimmer2o18 – the “O” in Olympic is a zero. The zero in 2018 is a lower case “o”. Protect yourself.
- Check your privacy settings.
Make sure you are not oversharing online unknowingly. Turn off blue tooth. If you use Google sharing or One Drive, double check your files and check your settings.
- Stop communicating via text and email if you can.
If this is not possible, text and write everything as if it will be reviewed in a court of law because guess what, it probably will be.
Stay to the point, remove emotion and accusations. If you have kids, stay on topic and to the point. Do not argue about your relationship or children over text and email.
- Get a notebook.
Document relevant conversations and actions in a separate notebook that you keep on your person. This will be very helpful for your attorney as you move forward.
- Be mindful of your vices.
This is not the time to self-medicate. You need to be present and on top of things.
- Know who you can trust and share information wisely.
Sharing information with the wrong person or people will only add to the storm you are in.
- Shift your focus from your spouse to you.
This is often one of the most challenging steps. It is important that you are focused on you, making sure you are ready, healthy and strong.
- Hold your head high.
No one ever died of divorce as a diagnosis, although at times it might feel like you will. Remember, you are brave. You are looking forward to your future life.
Divorce is one of the top 3 stressors in life. Do what you can to minimize the stress in your life. This will help you move on and into your future life in the best possible shape, physically, mentally and financially.