What Couples Need to Know About Preparing for Divorce

Moving forward after a divorce can be challenging. Here's what you need to know.

For couples who have made the decision to divorce, moving forward can be challenging. There are many lifestyle changes that occur with a divorce, including moving to a new home, financial restructuring, and even the possibility of starting a new job. If you and your partner have recently decided to separate, it's important to understand what you can expect moving forward. No matter what your current lifestyle might be, make sure you take the time to prepare yourself financially, emotionally, and socially for the changes you're about to experience. Here's what you need to know.

First off, divorce isn't for everyone. If the idea of divorce is terrifying or frustrating to you, make sure you take the time to analyze why. Are you feeling scared because you're making a huge decision? Or are you feeling frustrated because you don't believe divorce is actually the option you want? Make sure you consider the pros and cons of staying married versus getting divorced. For some couples, divorce is the right path. For others, staying together but making relationship changes is a much better option. When in doubt, consider meeting with a therapist who can discuss your options with you and help you understand the potential outcomes of any choice you might make.

It's also important to consider how you will prepare financially for the separation. Although you will likely have to pay legal fees, including attorney and possibly courtroom fees, you may also have other expenses. For example, you may be obligated to pay child support. You might have to pay to rent or buy a new home. Additionally, there will be other expenses when you separate from your spouse. If you and your partner shared a car, for example, you may need to find a new method of transportation. If you had shared bank accounts, you'll need to separate these. Also remember that things like retirement accounts will need to be divided, although the details of how you choose to separate these funds will vary.

Understand that when you and your partner separate, you may also experience social changes. This is especially true if you have shared friendships. Friends will naturally gravitate toward one partner after a divorce takes place. This doesn't mean that your friends don't like you anymore. Rather, it means that when a couple divorce, it's normal for friends to "pick a side." This might not be fair or fun; however, it's something you should be prepared for. Additionally, your kids may feel frustrated, anxious, or even angry during this time. They may struggle with their own friendships, so be prepared to help them throughout the entire divorce process.

No matter what led to your divorce, make sure that you and your partner discuss your options before you finalize your plans to separate. Open communication can help both of you move forward during this time. It will help you plan how you'll handle co-parenting and how you'll divide your assets. Remember that once you finalize your decision to separate, the fighting can stop. You no longer need to argue about anything because you will be terminating your relationship. Instead, you can focus on how you will finalize your plans to move forward as individuals. Consider meeting with a family therapist or mediator if you need additional assistance in communicating effectively with one another.

When you're ready to finalize your divorce, always meet with your lawyer promptly to get the process started.