We have all heard by now how proper planning prevents poor production but it also prevents anger, frustration and hardship after the divorce is final. Getting your “ducks in a row” can be the difference between a smooth dissolution and one fraught with complications.
A checklist at the end of this post can get you started on solid footing.
Because the legal process of divorce is more about financial separation than about emotional or psychological resolution, practical legal advice will help you become familiar with your own property and the things you need to do to ensure a fair division. Any of the preparation tasks can be carried out openly or in secrecy. Secrecy often leads to a nasty divorce. While it is important to take stock of your property, doing so in secrecy can drive you and your spouse further apart, and fuel feelings of anger and betrayal that can distort the whole process. These feelings create an atmosphere of distrust which leads to more animosity, distrust, and anger...all of the emotions you would be wise to minimize. Preparation tasks should thus be tackled only after you have thought about the most decent way to accomplish them.
Ideally, the tasks discussed below would be accomplished in consultation with your spouse. Try to accomplish the tasks below in the least adversarial manner. That does not mean discussing every action with your spouse. It means acting on your own behalf and informing the other. Be gentle if your relationship enables you to do so. If not, remain factual, and try to keep your emotions removed from the tasks at hand.
Here are some of the first things you’ll want to do:
• Start financial record collecting
• Make an inventory of your household items
• Get a copy of your credit report and establish credit in your own name
• Consider closing joint credit card and bank accounts
• Open a post office box
• Think about your career plans
• Open your own checking account
• Investigate your health insurance situation