If you are considering divorce, you can take steps to prepare and protect yourself legally, financially, and emotionally. Watch this video where Attorney Robert Epstein explains important steps in preparing yourself for divorce.
Below, we provide more context and guidance on what you can do to prepare yourself for your divorce emotionally, mentally, and financially. Here is a quick checklist concerning what to do to prepare for your divorce:
- Gather important documents and information about finances.
- Determine your income and create a budget for your divorce and post-divorce life.
- Establish your own credit (if necessary).
- Find and contact a reputable divorce attorney.
- Get a team together to support you emotionally.
If you feel prepared, review our blog, “How Do I Start the Divorce Process in Texas,” to benefit from our step-by-step guide on how to begin the filing process. Also feel free to reach out to our firm to get more direct help and speak with our attorneys.
Preparing for Divorce: A Comprehensive List of Documents to Collect
Collecting these documents provides a clear picture of your financial situation, assets, debts, and legal obligations. This information is crucial when negotiating property division, determining child custody, and calculating spousal support. Moreover, having these documents at hand can save time, reduce stress, and ensure no details are overlooked during the divorce proceedings. However, you should consult with an attorney before collecting these documents to ensure that you are doing so in a lawful way.
Here is a list of important financial documents you should collect:
- Bank statements. Gather bank statements from all accounts held jointly or individually. These statements provide an overview of your financial status, including income, expenses, and savings.
- Tax returns. Collect tax returns for at least the last three years. These documents provide insight into your annual income, deductions, credits, and other tax-related information.
- Investment portfolios. Compile records from any investment accounts, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc. These documents can help determine the value of your shared and individual assets.
You should also collect the following legal documents:
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
- Estate planning documents.
Other Essential Documentation
Depending on your specific circumstances, you might also need:
- Property deeds and mortgage documents to show ownership and any outstanding debts on properties.
- Vehicle titles to establish ownership of vehicles.
- Credit card statements to understand shared and individual debts.
- Pay stubs to validate income claims.
- Child-related expenses to establish the child’s needs concerning expenses related to healthcare, education, childcare, etc.
How to Obtain These Records
Most financial records can be obtained from your bank or financial institution. You can request copies of these documents either online, by phone, or in person. For tax returns, contact the IRS or your tax preparer.
Legal documents such as prenuptial agreements should be in your personal records, but if not, contact the attorney who drafted them.
Preparing for Divorce: Other Ways to Ensure Financial Preparedness
Money matters can quickly become a battleground during divorce proceedings. Assets, debts, spousal support, and child support all come into play, often leading to heated disagreements. A comprehensive understanding of your financial situation can help you navigate these waters more smoothly, ensuring an equitable distribution of assets and a realistic support arrangement.
In addition to collecting financial documents, you should also take the following steps to prepare for divorce financially:
- Inventory your assets and debts. The first step towards financial preparedness in divorce is taking an inventory of your assets and debts. This includes everything from real estate properties, investments, and retirement accounts to credit card debts and loans. Knowing what you own and owe can help you understand your financial standing better and provide a clear picture when discussing property division.
- Assess your streams of income. It's equally important to evaluate your income sources. Consider your salary, benefits, investment returns, and any other income source. This will help you understand your ability to pay certain expenses post-divorce and negotiate spousal or child support payments if necessary.
- Draft a budget. Creating a budget is an essential step in financial preparation for divorce. It helps you track your expenses and manage your finances effectively. Your budget should account for your living expenses, children's needs, debt repayments, and savings for future uncertainties.
Advantages of Being Financially Prepared
Being financially prepared brings several advantages, including:
- Giving you a sense of control over a situation that can often feel overwhelming.
- Making your discussions with your divorce attorneys more productive, as they will have all the necessary information to represent your interests effectively.
- Helping to reduce the chances of financial surprises during court proceedings, making the process less stressful.
Preparing for Divorce: Understanding the Divorce Grief Cycle
Divorce is not just the end of a marriage; it's a life-altering event that triggers a wave of emotions. Below, we discuss what divorce grief is and how to navigate through its different stages.
What is Divorce Grief?
Divorce grief is a natural response to the loss of a significant relationship. It mirrors the bereavement process that follows the death of a loved one, as in both cases, you mourn the loss of what was and what could have been.
The stages of the divorce grieving process are as follows:
- Denial. The first stage is often characterized by shock and denial. You may find it hard to accept that your marriage is over. If you are in this stage, to cope better, you should work to acknowledge your feelings. Denial is a defense mechanism that helps cushion the initial blow.
- Anger. As the reality of the situation sinks in, it's not uncommon to feel anger towards your ex-spouse or even yourself. To better cope with anger, consider channeling your anger into something constructive like exercise or a creative outlet. Consider seeking professional help if your anger feels uncontrollable.
- Bargaining. This stage involves dwelling on what you could have done differently to save the marriage. To handle this stage, instead of getting stuck in 'what if' scenarios, focus on what you can control—your own actions and responses.
- Depression. Feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in life are signs of depression. Coping Strategy: Reach out to a mental health professional. Engage in activities that you enjoy and practice self-care.
- Acceptance. This is the final stage where you accept the reality of your divorce and start moving forward. Coping Strategy: Celebrate small victories and embrace the opportunity to build a new life.
It's okay to feel any and all of the emotions of the divorce grieving process. No matter what stage you find yourself in, here are some additional coping strategies:
- Practice self-care. Make sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest. Self-care is crucial during this time.
- Give yourself grace. Don’t try to rush yourself through the grieving cycle and be patient with yourself.
- Seek support. Lean on family, friends, or support groups. Don't hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.
- Express your emotions. Writing in a journal, painting, or playing music can be therapeutic ways to express your emotions.
- Set boundaries. If possible, limit your contact with your ex-spouse to avoid rehashing old wounds.
- Forgive and let go. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting; it means letting go of any resentment and pain.
Preparing for Divorce: Contact Our Firm Today
Epstein Family Law is known for providing our clients with high-quality, empathetic counsel to those navigating divorce and family cases. With over 15 years of collective experience, our attorneys are honored to help our clients prepare for and navigate their divorce cases.
To get started on your case, contact our firm online or via phone at (972) 232-7673.