For some people, a divorce is a sudden event that provides no opportunity for planning. However, most people have some time for divorce planning.
As the old saying goes, you should always measure twice and cut once.
In a divorce, that means you should try to make sure everything is in place before you go to court to terminate your marriage.
Plan on how to approach your spouse
The best case scenario is for two divorcing spouses to be able to amicably decide how to split up their lives and then to work together to legally finalize their agreement.
It is not always that easy, though.
Some spouses are angry and will fight over every little thing. Your relationship with your spouse will impact every other facet of divorce planning.
Collect everything you need
The divorce process typically settles any issues related to children and money.
So you need to have a good understanding of the assets you and your spouse own. This means collecting bank statements, mortgage records, and appraisals for costly items.
You also want to have an understanding of everything that might come up as it relates to any children you have. You should know about their schools and their health insurance, for example.
For older children especially, you should do what you can to learn their preferences because that can be important when figuring out child custody and support.
You probably also want to think about how you would prefer to explain the situation to your child. Your spouse may react angrily and want to tell the children about the divorce in an upsetting way, so it can help to have a plan to present to your spouse.
Figure out your separation logistics
People often underestimate how long it takes to get divorced. In some states and situations, a divorce can be almost instantaneous.
Many states impose legal “cooling off” periods of various sorts, though.
This often means that you will need to live separately from your spouse for anywhere from a couple months to a year or more before your divorce can be finalized.
A lot can happen in a year. For one thing, you need a place to live. If you are not staying in the home, you need to find a place to stay and figure out how much it will cost.
You also need to eat and pay for any other expenses you have. You need to think about how much money you will need and how that will fit into the family budget because while the divorce is pending your earnings generally must be shared with your spouse.
Get your representation lined up
To the extent possible, it is good to have an idea of how you are planning to handle the legal issues at divorce. If you will hire your own lawyer to represent you, then you might as well get them hired while you are divorce planning.
That way you can already have them in place and available to you when you begin the process. If you hope to work together with your spouse either without an attorney or by sharing an attorney that helps you through the process together, then it might make sense to have enough information to propose that idea to your spouse.