9 Things to Do Before Signing Divorce Papers
If you’re considering divorce, you’re probably already aware of the physiological toll such a life-changing decision can take. Before you make a decision that has such a profound effect on the rest of your life, do these nine things:
1. Get Marriage Counseling
If you’re worried your spouse might react badly to the D-word or simply prefer to keep it to yourself, there’s no need to tell your spouse you’re considering divorce. But if you’re unhappy, chances are they are, too. Even if they aren’t, if you’re feeling unfulfilled in the relationship, marriage counseling is a good idea.
If they refuse, try counseling on your own. You may find that the reason for your unhappiness has little to do with your spouse. If that’s the case, a divorce may make matters worse. Either way, you’ll get to know yourself better — know what you really want and need out of life — and be able to take specific actions to make yourself happier in the future. Possibly even avoid being in the same kind of dead-end relationship with the same kind of person who couldn’t make you happy in the first place.
2. Start Journaling
Writing out your feelings about events that happened and making note of your goals and dreams is really helpful for working through negative emotions (and reminding you of positive ones). As you’re journaling, spend a couple of minutes at the end of each entry imagining what you’d like your life to be like in the future.
Go back occasionally and take stock. Has anything improved? Would you be more likely to meet your personal goals if you weren’t in your current relationship? Be honest with yourself. Is it really your spouse who’s preventing you from achieving your goals? Have you even shared them with him or her?
3. Reach Out for Support
You’ll want to talk through this with friends and family. Make sure you just choose a few trusted people, though, and be wary of taking advice without thinking it through. Everyone’s a psychologist when these issues crop up, and only you can truly know what will make you happy.
4. Consult an Attorney
Even before you make your final decision; it pays to consult a qualified Kissimmee divorce lawyer for their legal opinion. They may point out things you wouldn’t have thought of because they’re unique to your situation. We obviously can’t cover all of those things in this article as each case and couple are different.
5. Analyze Your Finances
Gather as much as you can: previous tax returns (joint or separate), checking and savings account statements, credit card statements, investment account statements (including retirement plans), property value estimates (including vehicles)… anything you can think of. The more you know, the better your attorney can help you.
6. Prepare a Contingency Budget
Think about what you’d need if you moved out on your own. Not just in terms of rent for a new place, but also in terms of other expenses and the creature comforts to which you’re accustomed. What you need for yourself is likely to be well more than half of what you’re spending together.
Do you make enough to survive on your own? Is there anything you can give up to make that happen? Will you need to make sure you’re up on your job skills or any additional education to get a better job? Even if your spouse is required to pay child support or spousal support, there will be several months (maybe even a year or so) before that decision is handed down by the courts. Even if you haven’t decided to go through with a divorce yet, now is the time to start preparing to support yourself in case the worst does happen.
7. Consider Child Custody
Remember that diary? Use it to keep track of how much time each of you spend with the kids — not just in terms of quality time, either. You need to know who does the work with regard to making sure the kids get where they’re supposed to be each day, from school to activities.
If your spouse does most of that work and there’s no way to adjust your schedule to do so, it may be best for the kids if your spouse has physical custody. If you share equally, joint physical custody is probably better for the kids. Just make sure you think in terms of what’s best for them, not you. And never, ever use your kids as a bargaining chip in divorce.
8. Consider Your Home
If you own a home, you need to be prepared to determine what to do with it. Will one of you keep it (and if so, who should?) or should you sell it and split the proceeds? The law may determine some of this, but you should consider your position and discuss it with your attorney.
9. Make Your Decision
Do you really want a divorce? Is it really at a point of no return or is it more practical to try to work it out? You don’t want to make a decision that will negatively impact you and your kids for the rest of your life. This is especially important if you’re leaving your spouse for another relationship. Is that person really the answer? Too often, people leave their spouse for another due to relationship issues that are perfectly solvable and end up right back where they started with a new person several years down the line.
None of the above recommended things to do before a divorce are required in the state of Florida, though some of them are so important that they are required in other states. If you do want a divorce, contact us online or call the Kissimmee, Florida divorce attorneys of Draper Law Offices at 866-767-4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.