There’s an old saying that states an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But this doesn’t apply only to the medical world; it applies to just about every aspect of our lives, including our relationships.
If you’ve come reading this far, it means you’re thinking about a divorce – either you’re going to file it or you suspect you spouse might. This is a great opportunity for you to make sure your bases are covered and that you’re prepared – with an ounce of prevention – for what’s coming.
Since a divorce is, in strictest terms, a legal proceeding, most of the following “prevention” tips are based on covering your legal bases. But we’re also going to toss in some advice about handling the whole situation which, after all, almost always comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Here are five tips to read before filing for divorce:
Tip #1: Figure out your marriage’s complete financial situation. The time before a divorce is filed might represent your last chance for easy access to information that’s about to become privileged, which means that now’s the time to assess your entire marriage’s financial situation. Mind that we said “entire marriage” as opposed to just you. Why is this? It pays not only to know your own financial situation but to also know the financial situation of your spouse.
What’s their annual income? Their usual expenses? As you might imagine these questions become far more relevant during the divorce proceedings as you make a financial split from each other. In this case, knowledge is power.
Because many normal divorce proceedings focus on alimony and child support payments, knowing your spouse’s annual income can be vital to setting a “right” amount of monthly payments between the two of you. Getting your way during the divorce proceedings will require a good amount of knowledge, not to mention the legal know-how of a lawyer. Speaking of lawyers…
Tip #2: Hire a lawyer. Don’t file for divorce yourself; make sure you have your divorce lawyer do it. This is the best way to start a divorce, because it means that you’ll be operating under the guiding expertise of an experienced divorce lawyer. Remember those key words: divorce lawyer. Don’t hire a lawyer who’s working on his first divorce, or someone straight out of law school. Find someone who’s been there before, knows how negotiations go down, and knows exactly how to proceed from where you are, which should be the starting point. These lawyers will be able to offer their knowledge on the subject matter and their advice should do a lot to win you money in the divorce settlement.
This is a very important piece of the process, so make sure you hire someone who you know will do a good job. If it costs a little more to find the right lawyer, let it cost a little more – you may find that the savings they find for you more than make up for the extra costs.
Tip #3: Ask yourself where you’ll live after the separation. Whether you’re a spouse who has been relying on your wife or husband or income, or you already have a well-paying job and just need a new, separate place to live, this will be one of the crucial questions to answer before you file for a divorce. Why? Well, we don’t have to explain to you how important it is to have a good living space, of course. But when you have something lined up for your new life already, it can take a lot of worry off of your shoulders and help you to concentrate on the things that matter even more: like taking care of your kids and ensuring that you see them a lot.
At this stage of the game, it’s important that you don’t make assumptions. For example, don’t assume that you’ll automatically be able to keep the house; what if you lose the house in the proceedings and suddenly have to face the reality of finding a living space? At the very least, be sure that you find a back-up plan in order to ensure that you’re covered either way.
Tip #4: Save money. Having money is, well, just plain important. But it’s especially important during the uncertainty of a divorce proceeding, when you’ll want to make sure you end the process with as much money as possible. If you’re going to file a divorce, it can sometimes pay to wait a while, save up some money, and ensure that you’re on more secure ground once the divorce comes.
Will this guarantee a great divorce proceeding? Of course not; “great” divorce proceedings are overrated. There are, after all, two parties involved – if one party wins, the other often loses. So just concentrate on maximizing your ability to come out of the divorce with your feet on the ground.
Tip #5: Build up credit. One of the things you’ll need after you’re divorced is a solid individual credit rating. Being able to get a car loan, a mortgage, a credit card – these major decisions can be a big part of your future financial life. You need to build credit on your own, and you can get started with your own credit card while you’re married. But building up credit will mean exercising a long-term strategy that lasts your entire life. So think long-term about your finances, and focus on being able to handle them yourself. This is good advice for any stage of your life, but will be especially important during the more difficult periods like divorce.
These five tips are important ways to get started with divorce proceedings, but it’s also important to remember that a strong marriage is a valuable thing. Only start exercising these tips if you’re sure you’re going to file for divorce; otherwise, focus on building a strong marriage. It’s important not to throw up the white flag during tough times. Even so, it’s always important to be prepared for bad situations legally.