Before a divorce can occur, a couple has to prepare for one. Dividing two lives can be an involved process that takes considerable amounts of information, negotiation, and financial resources, so it is best to approach your divorce with a plan.
1. Contact an Experienced Rhode Island Divorce Attorney
Your first step will be to find an attorney who can guide you through the process. They will be your biggest resource through the process, so it’s important to find a lawyer that you can work with. You may have to meet with a few to find one whose experience, personality, and price meet your needs. Ask for client referrals, information about their successes, their approach to your case, and any other questions that give you a clearer picture of how they work.
2. Create a Clear Picture of Your Finances
Financial information can be complicated, especially if you are the spouse who doesn’t usually handle the money in the marriage. You will need to gather financial information and organize a clear understanding of your marriage’s debts and assets. Bank statements, credit card statements, loans, mortgages, and other financial statements can help you determine what you need to know. Your attorney can also guide you, but you may wish to engage the assistance of a financial advisor. This information will be later used to develop a post-divorce budget.
3. Develop a Budget
Divorce changes many aspects of your life, including your financial needs. Developing a projected budget for after your divorce can help you obtain the settlement you need. Don’t forget to account for housing, transportation, bills, education expenses, and any other costs you may be facing.
4. Talking to Your Spouse About Divorce
Arguably one of the most difficult parts of divorce, asking your spouse for a divorce is an obvious step in the process. If you are unsure of your spouse’s reaction, you may want to gather the needed information before talking to them, so they can’t prevent you from moving forward easily. Be kind when you talk to them, and plan to have the talk when they will have time to process and ask questions without interruptions. If you have previously discussed divorce, this may be easier, but it is possible for your spouse to be blindsided by your request. If you are afraid for your safety, make your request in public or with a neutral third party present.
5. Talking to You Children About Divorce
Another difficult discussion you will need to have is with your children. It is best to have the discussion with the entire family at once, so now feelings are hurt or secrets are told that need to be kept by a child. Approach the conversation cooperatively with your spouse, and explain the divorce is a mutual decision and there will be some changes. Express that your children are still loved and supported, and never lay blame on your spouse. Plan to tell your children at a time when they can process the discussion, and be there to answer any questions they may have.
6. Handle Joint accounts and Debts
Most couples have joint accounts or shared debts that will need to be taken care of in the divorce. Dividing these may mean closing accounts and moving the balance to another account, or drawing up an agreement about who will pay which debts. Mortgages and loans may be refinanced or consolidated to allow one party to take on responsibility for them.
7. Making a Plan for the Future
Planning for the future is a crucial step to preparing for a divorce. Once the process begins, you may find yourself needing a place to stay, finding work, or other changes. Before you begin your divorce, outline a plan of your next steps. Know where you will stay, what job opportunities are available, how you will provide for your children, and what you can do to protect yourself, if necessary. Plan for what will occur after the divorce, as well. If you need help, contact your attorney to guide you through your planning process.
Entering a divorce with a solid plan can ease the process and help you tackle problems as they arise. It is important to gather the support you need, including carefully choosing legal representation for the process. With adequate support and a careful plan, you’ll soon be thriving after your divorce.
Our Rhode Island divorce attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping individuals prepare for and finalize their divorce. Our firm offers caring legal services that will aggressively defend your rights. ContactTJC • ESQ today to learn more about how we can represent you in your divorce.