Prepare yourself for divorce.
Divorce is one of the most stressful things that a person can go through. Some studies suggest that only losing a child or a parent is more stressful than divorce. There are things you can do to prepare yourself so that the divorce process is much more manageable.
If you have children, you cannot stop being a parent just because you are going through a divorce. In fact, the divorce should encourage you to become a better parent and focus your attention on your children. It is never too late to start being a great parent. Walk the walk, do the things that great parents do. Seek counseling if needed and educate your self. Now is the time to reconnect with your children. Dedicate your focus on your children and you will turn a bad situation into a rewarding experience. When making decisions, make decisions that are in the best interests of your children. Do not let the past dictate the future.
(1) Seek advice from a competent family law and divorce attorney. Representing yourself should not be an option unless it is the only option. There are affordable attorneys, but you may have to search a little harder to find them because advertising is expensive and like any business, advertising expenses get passed on to the client. Hire an attorney that has experience in family law and divorce matters. Divorce is a unique area of the law and not every attorney is capable to deal with the emotional and personal elements of a family law matter. Interview several attorneys if you wish. Shop around. Every attorney has their own strengths and weaknesses. Choose the attorney that is right for you. This includes making sure that you can afford your attorney. Each attorney charges differently. Make sure you understand how your attorney bills for the time spent on your case. If you pay your attorney an initial amount and the work exceeds your initial payment, will you still be able to afford your attorney when additional payments are requested? Will you be able to afford paying your attorney to go to trial? Ask questions.
(2) Take responsibility for yourself. Do not sit back and let things happen to you. Be proactive. If you are served with divorce papers, begin looking for an attorney immediately (once you are served you must respond pursuant to the law or you will automatically lose). Do not ignore documents that come in the mail. Follow the advice of your attorney. Keep your contact information updated. Do not succumb to stress and depression. Take care of yourself physically and you will thrive mentally. There is no better time to start exercising than when you are involved in a divorce.
(3) Stay calm. Do not allow the actions of your spouse cause you to make mistakes. Do not vent on social media. Do not speak negatively about your spouse to third parties or post negative things about them. Going through a divorce means learning to let things go. When you are feeling angry or emotional, refrain from expressing those feelings to your spouse in a negative manner. Go for a walk. Reach out to your friends and family for emotional support. Do not put anything in writing to your spouse that you would not want a judge to see. Practice maintaining your composure. Your calm demeanor will empower you and it will take the stress off of your children. Communicate with your spouse, but do not be pulled into arguments. If you have children, you must get along with your spouse (if you are a victim of domestic violence seek help immediately). Bite your tongue. Rise above whatever it is. You will be happier in the end and you are more likely to have a better outcome.
(4) Become an expert on your own finances. The law requires you to disclose financial information to your spouse. Your lawyer can provide you with the list of documents and information that is required. If your record keeping is a mess, now is the time to start getting things together. Pull credit reports on yourself so that you can see what debts are out there in your name. Create a personal budget. Dedicate time to figuring out what your expenses will be after divorce. If you own a business, communicate with your bookkeeper or accountant if you have one. Do not steal financial documents from your spouse. Change the passwords to the online access to your account information. Consider opening your own separate accounts but consult with an attorney prior to closing any accounts or changing the title to any accounts.
(5) Set goals. Goals help you stay focused on the future instead of the past. Having clear goals will also help your attorney assist you during your divorce. For example, if you have children, how will your children's time be spent between you and your spouse? If you own real estate, what are your longterm goals? Are you planning to go back to school or seek a new career path? Figure out what is important to you and organize your goals by level of importance. An experienced attorney can help you set goals.