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By Colleen Honquest

Getting a divorce from a spouse can be one of the hardest and most stressful times in a person’s life.  It is economically and emotionally devastating and forever will change your life. When you have all of these highly charged emotions involved, it is hard to separate these and concentrate on what needs to be considered for the divorce process.  There are a number of first steps to help prepare yourself financially and emotionally during this stressful time.

1. Do your research and know your rights.

You need to be prepared before you start the divorce process.  Conducting research and collecting all important paperwork now will save you headaches and money later.  Divorce laws are different in every state so it is important to know the laws in your state. Gather all of your financial documents, including income statements, properties, insurance papers, financial assets (equity in home, cars, 401Ks) and liabilities (credit card debt, mortgage, car payments).

2. Consult with an experienced/professional attorney.

If you’re considering divorce, consult with two to three reputable attorneys.   Many attorneys will give a 30 to 60-minute free consult.  You can research attorneys online and read about them on their websites.  Do your homework.  If you are in a high conflict divorce or leaving a marriage where there was any kind of abuse, be sure to ask your lawyer if they have handled cases similar to yours.  Be very specific as to the forms of abuse that you experienced in your marriage and ask how they handled cases with spouses such as yours.  Another source for attorney information is from your Divorce Professionals.  For instance, Certified Divorce Coaches and Certified Divorce Financial Planners, Realtors, and Mortgage Professionals who specialize in Divorce situations.  Go to your meetings armed with information and questions for the attorney.  Most courts use a formula to decide how the assets, support, and alimony are calculated. Ask your lawyer to explain the formula and laws for your state.  You’ll make better decisions and have a better outcome if you do a bit of planning before you file for Divorce.

3. Surround yourself with friends.

Spend a lot of time with your friends and/or family. You need to be around supportive people who have your best interests at heart. You’ll need shoulders to cry on, hopeful information about the future, and guidelines from people who’ve gone through it. You may also need child care and possibly financial help.  Research different support and information, such as this site.  Also, stay single, this is not the time to be looking for a rebound relationship; and you probably are not emotionally ready.

4. Get a good Divorce Coach.

Ask your friends to recommend a Divorce Coach who can help you through the ups and downs during the divorce process. Whether it is you or your spouse that wants the divorce, you’ll still be on an emotional roller coaster. You’ll need someone who has been there and can help you set goals and follow a strategic route. A Divorce Coach can help you to work with your lawyer more efficiently and make you a better client, therefore helping you get a better outcome.  A Divorce Coach aka Thinking Partner provides you with the tools to check your decision-making, know what steps to take next, and lower your stress. Contact  us at Divorce Coalition to get started today.

Colleen Honquest, Divorce Mediator and Certified Divorce Coach

Founder, DivorceMD, LLC

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