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5 Steps to take Before Filing for Divorce

1. Know your finances – most people have no idea what their entire financial picture looks like. Divorcing individuals tend to have a general idea of what comes in but have no real grasp of the monthly expenditures. Prior to filing for divorce, you should take a financial inventory. Gather last year’s tax statement, six months of bank and credit card statements, and information about investment accounts that you and your spouse have. Next, write down the monthly income and subtract out all the expenditures. This will give you a much better sense of the financial assets and liabilities that will need to be discussed and distributed during the divorce.

2. Research alternative living arrangements - divorce tends to bring high emotion and years of resentment to the table. This is not an ideal environment to come home to every single night after a long day at work. Begin researching short-term housing options for yourself or for your spouse. Whether it’s a one-bedroom apartment or couch surfing with friends and family for a few months, knowing what your options are will make the transition much easier. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are still living with the person you are in the process of divorcing. I’ve seen this scenario play out many times where the volatility escalates, the police get involved, and a restraining order gets issued. By simply having an alternative living arrangement this worst-case scenario can easily be avoided.

3. How much alimony will be paid/received - most people have a general idea that if you get a divorce alimony will need to be paid/received. Most people however do not take the steps to find out exactly how much will need to be paid/received. Surprisingly the answer to this seemingly complex question is remarkably easy but can only be done after having a sense of your finances in step one. The alimony calculation is basically an algorithm that takes into account the parties’ income and years of marriage to produce a monthly amount of alimony and the duration that alimony will need to be paid that is specified by the state statute. There are many free resources to run a free alimony calculator. Click here to run a free alimony calculator.

4. How much child support will be paid/received - if there are minor children involved child support will need to be paid/received. Like the alimony calculator above, the child support calculation is an algorithm that takes into account the parents’ incomes, alimony that is being paid, the number of overnights the children will be with each parent, and health insurance premiums that are being paid. Once that information is imputed it will produce a monthly amount of child support that will need to be paid/received. Again, there are many free resources to run a free child support calculator. Click here to run a free child support calculator.

5. Take care of yourself - divorce can be one of the most stressful, self-doubting, and emotionally draining events in your life. Before you go into your divorce, I would highly encourage you to be cognizant of the upcoming stresses and start building up your resources today. Find what your healthy outlet for dealing with the stress is going to be. Join a gym, start a book club, find a good therapist.

Any or all of these things can help take your mind off the divorce even if momentarily and help to springboard you into the new life that you want to create for yourself once the divorce is final. The biggest mistake is to feel ashamed and isolate yourself from your friends, family and others during your divorce. Nearly half the population has gone through a divorce and you would be surprised at how therapeutic and helpful it will be to know that you’re not alone.


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