Preparing for Divorce: How to Protect Yourself Financially
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I hate that this is such a “needed” resource for women (especially stay at home Moms), but we’ve all heard the statistics. 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Preparing for divorce is probably not something you ever thought you’d be Googling (especially when you were so in love and things were so great at one point). But here you are, so I want to provide some resources to help you.
First and foremost, if you’re being abused (sexually, emotionally, physically), please seek help. No one on this earth deserves such disregard, disrespect, and pain. You are worthy. Please know that. Focus on the Family offers a Christian counseling referral program. You can get more information here.
There are many reasons you could be preparing for divorce. From compulsive spending problems to infidelity to toxic behavior and fighting or abuse, any of these could lead you to research how to protect yourself financially. And if you’re a stay at home Mom, you definitely need to make sure you’ve got your finances straight. You may or may not end up divorced, and in a perfect world, you wouldn’t be considering this, but unfortunately, people fck up….sometimes they fck up really, really bad.
Preparing for Divorce: Financially and Emotionally
1. Stay Calm
I know right now you might really want to throw dishes at his face. You might be screaming and yelling and cursing and crying, or maybe you’re in denial and completely numb. Whatever you’re feeling, try to keep a level head and think things through logically and rationally. Whether you choose to work things out, separate, or divorce, you’ll want to make sure you approach this from a completely unemotional state of mind (as hard as that may sound).
2. Make Sure You Have Marketable Skills and/or Income
Divorce attorneys aren’t cheap. And you can’t assume that he’ll automatically have to pay for all legal fees (assuming you can’t come to a civil agreement). Plus you’ll need money to live on. If you’re the Mom who’s put her career on the back-burner or quit her job to stay at home with the kids, it’s time to spruce up your resume. If, while you’ve been staying at home, you’ve been fine-tuning your social media skills and/or writing a blog like this one, add anything and everything you’ve learned in your years as a homemaker. Moms have the best ability to multi-task and get things done! Showcase and highlight that! Own it!
Are you part of our Facebook group? It’s a great place for encouragement and motivation. Please join us!
3. Get Organized
When preparing for divorce, it’s important to gather all pertinent facts and information as well as documents that will help in the potential divorce proceedings. Make sure to keep a record of all communications and text messages/emails that may be important. The two of you will be negotiating many different things from custody (if you have kids) to child support to (possibly) alimony and living arrangements, so keep track of everything. By having detailed records, you’ll be better prepared, and if you hire an attorney, he or she will be better able to do their job.
4. Inventory Assets and Liabilities
Work with your spouse from the beginning to create a list of assets and liabilities. You’ll want to list anything of value owned by either (or both) parties. Make sure you list identifying markers such as firearm serial numbers, make and model, etc. Keep copies of any appraisals of personal (jewelry, guns, etc) or real property (such as your primary residence or investment homes).
If you don’t know the current value of your home, I am a licensed real estate agent with Perfect Address Referral in Springfield Illinois. Whether or not you plan to sell your home right away (or even at all), it will help to know the approximate value. Real estate agents can give you a free comparative market analysis, or CMA, saving you the cost of an appraisal. If you’d like for me to connect you with a Realtor in your area, fill out this form, and I’ll get right back to you!
5. Guard the Kids’ Hearts
Your children’s well-being and care should be your greatest concern through this whole ordeal. Have a conversation with your spouse early on and promise to never talk ill of each other. No matter the circumstances, your kids don’t need to know details. They’ll probably be very sad and confused for awhile. But having gone through a divorce, I can say that their behavior and reaction will mirror your own. So if you try to make a terrible situation okay and look at the positives (I know it’s hard), your kids will respect you even more for it. Try to keep it together in front of the kids, and never, ever argue or fight in front of the children.
6. Decide on an Attorney or File for Divorce Yourself
When I got divorced from my first husband in 2009, I had no money for an attorney. I performed a simple Google search and found all of the information I needed such as child support calculation worksheets and parenting plans. I also ordered this divorce forms kit that I was able to fill out myself and file. It includes information for all 50 states in the US. This kept the filing fees down to a couple hundred dollars. Side note: my ex-husband ended up hiring an attorney to contest, but because I had my ducks in a row, I received everything that I requested.
If you’re preparing for divorce and just don’t know where to start, be sure to pin this post to your Relationships or Marriage board on Pinterest. That way you can easily find it when you need to reference the information.
Here are some additional resources that may help if you’re considering preparing for divorce:
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