Whether you have been married for 3 or 30 years, at some point or another, many married couples experience problems. From financial issues and infidelity to a serious illness or issues with addiction –individuals who experience these and other difficulties in their marriage may eventually come to the decision that a marriage cannot be saved.
If you are planning to file for divorce, it’s important to prepare. While many aspects of a divorce won’t be in your control, taking the time to think about your goals with regard to child custody, asset and debt division and what to do with a shared home can provide you a major advantage over a soon-to-be ex-spouse who may or may not know about your plans.
Whether you’ve agonized over filing for divorce for several weeks or several years, it can be difficult to hold back once you know that you want out of a marriage. However, rushing into any major decisions and life changes often has significant and unforeseen consequences. Provided you are not in any physical danger, it’s wise to get a few things in order before you tell your spouse and actually file divorce papers, including:
- Establish Financial Independence — If you’re like a lot of married couples, you likely have a joint checking and savings account that both you and your spouse contribute to and draw from. While having a shared account works for many married couples, it can be a disadvantage when you are planning to file for divorce. By opening an account and credit card in your own name, you can start putting away funds and building credit that you’ll need to get you through and beyond your divorce. One caveat, if you open your own account, funds you contribute are still considered to be marital assets until you and your spouse are living separate and apart or a divorce complaint is filed
- Take Inventory — When it comes to assets, debts and property, it’s hard to know what you ultimately want out of a divorce settlement when you don’t know what you have. It will likely be much easier to access and take stock of both your spouse’s and your shared assets and debts before your spouse knows you plan to file for divorce.
- Prepare Emotionally — Even when you’re the one who wants and initiates a divorce, it doesn’t mean it won’t be emotionally taxing. As you prepare to end your marriage, there are bound to be some good and not-so-good days ahead. Take time before you actually file to establish a strong support system of friends and family and maybe even a neutral third-party professional.