How Do I Prepare Myself for a Divorce?
Most people report feeling an onslaught of emotions as they consider filing for divorce. It is only natural to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. No matter if you are the one who initiates the divorce or receives a summons, you can expect to feel fear and trepidation about what is coming next. Taking the right steps to prepare yourself before filing is key in reducing this uncertainty.
Get Your Financials in Order
No matter if you are from an affluent family or living paycheck to paycheck, financial concerns are universal during and after a divorce. You need to have a financial strategy in place before you leave your marital home, and know how you can pay your day-to-day bills as well as legal costs and other expenses.
Knowing you have a household budget in place is key in reducing the additional stress on you immediately after a separation. If possible, do not rely on alimony or child support when creating this budget, as it may take a few weeks to get temporary child support and there is no guarantee the court will award alimony.
All too often, we see one spouse cut off access to joint accounts or other funds during a divorce. You can prevent this by setting up your own checking and savings accounts and establishing individual credit prior to filing for divorce. You may want to choose a different bank than your joint accounts, just to be on the safe side.
Collect Any Evidence or Documents You May Need
You have probably heard the phrase “it is better to be safe than sorry” many times, but this is one case where it really applies. Even if you believe your spouse will not contest your divorce, you want to have the information you need if s/he does.
Take an inventory of any personal property you owned before your marriage, and anything you inherited. Do the same for any assets or collections you amassed during your marriage. Have a $20,000 wine collection? Make copies of your inventory list. Make copies of deeds and other legal paperwork. Do not overlook documents related to retirement accounts, stocks, or bonds.
It is also a good idea to make copies of all your financial records and put this information into a file. If your spouse cleans out your joint accounts or liquidates joint assets, you will need proof of these activities to claim the money that is rightfully yours.
Do not leave these files in your house with your spouse. Instead, store them at a trusted family member’s home or rent a safe deposit box. This type of evidence can be crucial if your spouse tries to prevent you from claiming the assets that are rightfully yours.
Take Care of the Practical Things
Create a checklist of all the practical things you will need to do; this can make them seem much less overwhelming. Each situation is different, and you can adapt your list to your own needs.
For example, most people will need to change their address. Whether that is to have mail sent to your parents’ house or to your new address, or to open a post office box, you do not want your spouse receiving correspondence from your lawyer or learning about your bank account when s/he sees a statement in the mailbox.
You will also need to move your phone into your own name, look for a new place to live, and a number of other tasks in preparation for your divorce.
Treat Yourself Well
Perhaps the most difficult thing to do in the coming weeks or months is to emotionally prepare for a divorce. However, it is also one of the most necessary. The key to this process is to allow yourself to feel how you feel and not beat yourself up over it. You will likely have good days and bad days as you grieve the life you had and the life you planned with your spouse.
Take time to relax; get a massage or simply try to spend some time doing the things you enjoy. Even just taking a few deep breaths can help calm you when times are rough. Focus on taking good care of your physical health, too. Eating well and exercising can play a major role in your state of mind.
Get Familiar with the Divorce Process
The Washington State divorce process can seem complicated, especially if you are not accustomed to dealing with legal matters. There are a number of court forms to file, and waiting periods and other hurdles to clear. By learning about this process and knowing what to expect, you can lessen your anxiety. Knowing you have a knowledgeable divorce lawyer on your side to guide you through the process will also help.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Spokane, the staff at Crouse Erickson can help you navigate the legal process and offer guidance through this tough time. Call us today at 509-624-1380 to schedule a time to meet with a Washington State divorce and child custody attorney.