19 Key Steps to Planning for Divorce

It’s definitely wise to take as much time to plan your divorce as you did to plan your wedding. It definitely involves less time spent on Pinterest and daydreaming over magazines, but adequate preparation for divorce is critically important.

Follow these 19 steps, and you’ll be sure to have a much neater, more efficient, less expensive divorce.

1. Attend “What Every Virginia Woman Needs to Know About Divorce” seminars, held on the 2nd Saturday of every month at 8:30 am and 3rd Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm. The 2nd Saturday seminars are held in two locations, at the Friend’s Meeting House in Virginia Beach, and at the Hilton Garden Inn in Newport News. The 3rd Tuesday seminars are held in the Virginia Beach location only.

2. Meet with a family law attorney to discuss your legal rights.

3. Write out a narrative for your attorney. Include specifics, like the date you began living together, the date you married, your children’s ages and birth dates, previous separations, when important assets were acquired, and what property you brought into the marriage or inherited.

4. Gather information about what you currently own and what you owe. Find copies of financial statements, tax returns, retirement plan documents, credit card statements, insurance policies, and so on.

5. Obtain detailed information on each retirement plan to which you and your husband have contributed.

6. Set your goals, and decide which assets you would like to keep and which you are willing to give up. Give each item a numerical value in terms of its importance to you, ranging from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (I would give a lot to keep this item). Meet with a tax accountant or attorney to discuss the tax consequences associated with any assets you may want to keep. (Ask yourself, “Can I REALLY afford this?”

7. Prepare a spending history for the last year from your bank statements or online bank account. You’ll need this to determine what you’ll need in the future, where you’ve overspent, and where you can make cutbacks, if necessary. Change passwords to any accounts that are in your separate name.

8. Before you separate, use joint funds to repair your car and home, buy clothing for you and your children, and get necessary dental work or medical checkups. After separation, those costs will be yours alone.

9. Get a spouse-safe email address and P.O. box so that you’ll have somewhere to send the things you don’t want getting sent somewhere your husband might find them.

10. Set aside cash reserves to use in the first few months of your separation. Transfer your share of joint money to a separate bank account, or keep it in cash somewhere that he won’t find it.

11. Apply for your own credit card, in your own name.

12. Close any joint credit card accounts. Notify creditors (and your husband) in writing that you will no longer be responsible for your husband’s charges on any accounts left open.

13. Begin a divorce notebook. List all the problems you’re experiencing. List each step that you take in the process, including a synopsis of all telephone calls and conferences with your attorney and your accountant. Take good notes!

14. Divorce is scary, but it will be less so if you figure out the worst that could happen and decide in advance how you will deal with it. Investigate community resources that are available to you.

15. Explore career options!

16. Begin negotiation discussions with your husband. Stay as calm as possible. Find out what his hot buttons are and where he is willing to make concessions.

17. Attend family law court proceedings and talk to family and friends who have been through a divorce recently.

18. Find a good therapist or support group to help you through the months ahead. Don’t go through divorce alone!

19. Take your time and don’t rush. Planning for divorce should be deliberate and slow. Give yourself a chance for the best, freshest new start possible.

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