Before You Decide to Divorce…….
Getting married is one of the happiest moments in our lives. We fall in love, start a family, and create wonderful memories. No one gets married with a plan to get a divorce later. However, sometimes the unimaginable begins to happen. The love, respect and admiration for our spouse starts to wain and begins to create dysfunction and animosity. If you feel yourself here, there are some things to think about before you choose the irreversible and decide to divorce.
The best place to start; with the man (or woman) is in the mirror, with some self-reflection.
Certainly, your wedding vows were not meant to be taken lightly. So, to avoid deep regret, make sure to do everything you know how to do to save your marriage. Seek counseling for yourself or as a couple and explore your feelings. Have you been open and honest with your spouse about your feelings and intent? Take time to have a heart-felt discussion and keep the lines of communication open.
Divorce does not have to be adversarial.
Consider different methods of dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative divorce. These will help to facilitate a more amicable and cooperative process, reducing stress and conflict.
If you do feel that you have made an honest attempt to reconcile but the relationship is irretrievably broken and you decide to divorce, the next step is planning.
Are you prepared for a drop in your standard of living? Do you realize that the same money that supported one household must now support two separate households. Both of you may have a reduced standard of living.
If you are not 100% clear on your financial situation or have not been involved in the family finances, now’s the time to get prepared.
You will need to gather important financial documents, such as tax returns, investment and bank statements, and other relevant paperwork. You will need to evaluate your financial situation and prepare a realistic budget for a post-divorce life. This is a good time to consider meeting with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) to evaluate your options and assist you in projecting what your income will look like moving forward.
Depending on your situation and state of residence, you may want to consult with an attorney.
Consult with an attorney that is experienced in divorce, so you understand the legal implications and what your rights are in this process. This is especially important when it comes to child custody and division of assets.
If children are involved, prioritize their well-being.
Try to come to a mutually agreeable solution for custody arrangements and visitations. If you feel it is needed, don’t hesitate to seek out guidance from a child psychologist or family therapist.
Check your support network.
This is one of the most difficult things that a person can face in life. Divorce can be emotionally challenging. So, prepare yourself for the emotional rollercoaster. The divorce process may last anywhere from 6 months to two years. Be sure to surround yourself with family and friends that will love and support you without being judgemental. You’ll need all the support you can get.
Some states allow for a Do-It-Yourself divorce. I don’t recommend it.
You will need to create a team of professionals to assist you through this process. An attorney can handle the legal matters, a CDFA® the finances and possibly a therapist for you and the children, if needed. Remember, every divorce is unique. Having a team of professionals by your side will take much of the stress and anxiety out of the process.
Take a deep breath and take one step at a time. You WILL get through this.
Oscar N. Alvarez CFP, CDFA
Pathway Divorce Solutions, Inc.