Getting a divorce isn't typically pleasant. It's common for negative emotions to get in the way of rational thinking, and when that happens, people either rush through their divorce too quickly or end up fighting about every small decision they need to make. However, if you approach divorce slowly, and take care of everything that you need to before filing your divorce paperwork, the process becomes a lot easier on everyone involved.
Make Sure Divorce is What You Want
If you and your spouse made the decision to get divorced while tempers were flared, there's a chance that you've allowed your emotions to guide you into making a rash decision. Before you even begin discussing the terms of a divorce with your spouse, take some time to think about how you truly feel about your spouse and what life will be like for you and your family during and after the divorce process. If you think there is a chance that you or your spouse will want a reconciliation in the future, you might want to consider going to marriage counseling before rushing into a divorce.
Discuss Custody Goals with Your Spouse
One of the hardest parts of getting a divorce is determining how to handle the custody and visitation arrangements for your children. Talking about your expectations for your children before you file your divorce papers makes the process easier. In addition to visitation guidelines and child support, you need to determine how the children will be claimed when it's time to file your annual taxes, how you and your spouse will handle paying for things such as extracurricular activities or medical expenses that aren't covered by your health insurance, which parent will be responsible for providing your children's health insurance, and how you'll handle paying for college. Additionally, you'll want to discuss how visitation will be handled during holidays, school breaks, and birthdays.
Assess Your Finances
Before you file your divorce papers, you need to have at least a general idea of where you stand financially. In order to do this, you need to gather all of the financial documentation that you can, including:
- Mortgage papers
- Car loan documentation
- Credit card statements
- Personal loan documentation
- Inventory of valuable assets, such as artwork and jewelry
- Pension plan, 401K, and bank account statements
- Credit reports
- Income tax documentation for the past few years
While you may not be able to iron out every detail of your divorce with your spouse before you file your divorce papers, the more decisions you make before court, the easier the divorce process becomes. So, take the time to calmly discuss your divorce with your spouse so that you know that it's what you both want, and how you want to proceed.