By Kelly Myers, Divorce & Mediation Coach and Co-Parenting Specialist
Deciding to end a marriage is one of the most difficult and life-changing decisions a person can make. Before taking the step of telling your spouse that you want a divorce, it’s crucial to take some important preparatory steps to protect yourself emotionally, financially, and legally. Here are 12 essential actions to take before having that significant conversation with your spouse.
Create a Private Email Account
One of the first things you should do is create a private email account specifically for divorce-related communications with professionals. This ensures that sensitive information remains confidential and minimizes the risk of your spouse stumbling upon these emails prematurely. One way to do this is to create a Gmail account that you have to log into Gmail to look at emails.
Clear Search History on Shared Devices
If you share a computer or other devices with your spouse, be mindful of clearing your search history when researching divorce-related information. Privacy is key during this sensitive period, and this simple step can help maintain it.
Secure Important Documents
Make copies of, or have in your possession, essential documents like passports, birth certificates, social security cards, and financial records. If you anticipate a high-conflict situation, having these documents in your possession can prevent your spouse from withholding them from you in the future.
Gather Financial Statements
Obtain copies of financial statements, including tax returns and statements for bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, mortgages, and loans. These documents are vital for understanding your financial situation and making informed decisions during the divorce process.
Establish an Emergency Fund
Prepare an emergency fund or ensure you have access to funds in an account that is solely in your name. This precautionary measure safeguards your ability to engage with divorce professionals without interference once you’ve informed your spouse of your intentions.
Consult with a Divorce Professional
If you anticipate your spouse may be high conflict, it’s wise to meet with a divorce coach or attorney experienced in de-escalation of high conflict situations. Attorneys who have been trained in or practice mediation or Collaborative law have gone through specific training that can be particularly helpful in high conflict situations. Divorce coaches and attorneys can provide invaluable guidance on how to approach the situation and prepare you for what lies ahead.
Seek Emotional Support
Divorce is an emotional rollercoaster, and having the right support system is crucial. Rely on a divorce coach or therapist who specializes in dealing with the unique issues that arise during this challenging time. Friends and family, although well-meaning, may not fully understand the complexities of divorce, or the unique issues in your divorce. Also remember that sometimes the emotions you’re feeling are due to the fear of the unknown. Working with the right team of divorce professionals will help you get the information you need to help alleviate those feelings of fear.
Prepare for the Conversation
Before telling your spouse you want a divorce, create a script that focuses on your decision to seek a divorce; use “I” statements, and be future focused. Avoid rehashing the past, casting blame, or explaining why the marriage failed. Keep the conversation concise and centered on your desire to work together on the necessary decisions that will need to be made moving forward.
Embrace Logical Decision-Making
While divorce is an emotionally charged experience, important decisions lie ahead. Work with a divorce coach or therapist to separate emotions from the business aspect of the divorce. Logical thinking will lead to decisions that serve your long-term interests.
Communicate your intentions of wanting a divorce to your spouse before serving divorce papers. Blind-siding your spouse can lead to unnecessary conflict and can hinder constructive communication during the process. In cases of domestic abuse or violence you should work with a divorce professional specializing in domestic abuse and intimate partner violence to help you prioritize your safety and help you determine the best way to move forward with the divorce and service of divorce papers.
Build a Divorce Support Team
Assemble a team of professionals who will assist you in various aspects of the divorce process. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can handle financial matters, while divorce mortgage and real estate professionals can guide you through property issues. If you have children, consider involving a child therapist or co-parenting specialist to ensure their well-being. Adding a divorce coach to your team can help you navigate the divorce process and assist you in managing the overwhelm and becoming more strategic in your decision making.
Educate Yourself on Divorce Options
Litigation is not always the best option. It’s important to understand the other divorce options available to you. Mediation and Collaborative law are great places to start and can often allow you to settle your divorce in a much more cost-effective way, allowing for more creative solutions to problems that will hopefully meet your individual needs better.
Telling your spouse that you want a divorce is a momentous and emotionally charged event. However, taking these steps beforehand can help you navigate the process more smoothly and protect your interests. Seek the guidance of divorce professionals and get the emotional support you need to make informed decisions and pave the way for a more amicable and manageable divorce experience. Remember, your well-being matters, and being prepared is the first step toward a brighter future.
As a divorce and mediation coach, and co-parenting specialist, Kelly Myers believes that helping you navigate the divorce process through managing your emotions, creating a divorce support team, and finding clarity on wants and needs will enable you to use your divorce to build a strong foundation for your future. Kelly has invested over a thousand hours of training in order to have the expertise needed to support you in having the most successful divorce outcome possible.
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