So, you’ve decided, after much thought and consideration, that you want to get a divorce.
That’s not meant to sound insensitive, but it’s the number one question that you should be thinking about once you’ve decided to end your marriage. Now what? What comes next? If I’ve already made the painful decision, what are the next steps to seeing this through?
Divorces tend to be emotional decisions (understandably so), but they can get so messy and take so much longer than they need to — IF you don’t enter into the proceedings having prepared yourself adequately.
How do you prepare yourself? You know you want to get a divorce, but what needs to immediately follow that decision?
Senior VP of YourTango Experts, Melanie Gorman, asked those questions to a panel of professional divorce coaches and captured their responses in the YourTango Experts video above.
Our divorce experts — Debra Block, Karen Bigman, Petalyn Albert, and Pegotty Cooper — offered up several important, actionable steps that anyone should consider before they announce their intentions to leave their marriage.
You can watch their full remarks in the video above, but here are 4 things that our professional coaches say you must do ASAP once you decide you want a divorce.
1. Imagine what you want your life to look like after the divorce.
This is such an important first step. Because going through a divorce is such a life-changing milestone that you need to have an idea of what you want your new life to look like afterward. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to live? What do you think your day-to-day life will look like?
Before you proceed with filling, you need to have a firm understanding of what you want your post-divorce life to be, because that vision will help guide your decision-making throughout the whole process (and let you know if you need help to achieve those goals).
2. Do your due diligence.
You have to choose to be educated before you start a divorce. That might mean having to do a lot of uncomfortable number-crunching and financial homework. You need to know the status of your bank accounts, learn about any investments you might have, craft a budget to see what your post-divorce life might cost you on a monthly basis (rent, food, etc).
You just want to make sure you’re informed, because, especially if the divorce filing is going to be a surprise, you need to prepare yourself for your partner’s reaction. They might be fine OR they might freak out and move to hide money or lock you out of accounts. Since you can’t predict exactly how they’ll react, you need to be prepared for the best and worst-case scenarios.
3. Get organized.
This is a hard one if you’re not a particularly organized person to begin with. But it is SO vital to having a smooth divorce. Make sure you know where everything is. So make yourself a project plan. Set goals, action items, whatever you need to make sure that you’re doing everything you need to move the divorce along.
There are a lot of benefits to organization, but here are the two biggest ones — being organized means you’ll ultimately have to spend less on attorney fees and your divorce will move faster. And who doesn’t want that?
4. Be prepared to ask for help.
Emotions are already so strained in many divorce situations that asking for help can be incredibly difficult. Frankly, it can feel like giving up. “But I’ve just decided that I want to be independent! I don’t need someone else to do anything for me!”
However, being open to accepting outside help during a divorce is essential to surviving the process. Beyond accepting emotional support — which you really need — you need to surround yourself with people who can help you make the best case for what you want out of the divorce.
That can be friends who’ve been throughout the experience before or attorneys that you trust. Or you may want to hire a professional divorce coach. These coaches have helped guide people through thousands of divorces. You can bounce ideas off them, tap them for advice, or have them help you sort through all the details being thrown at you. The best part is that they have no agenda. They’re just looking out for you.
If you’ve decided to file for divorce, you’re about to take a big, scary step forward in your life. But if you’ve taken the time to prepare yourself for what comes next, the whole process will be a lot less frightening.