chalkboard checklist

Divorce Checklist

You decided to file for divorce. This decision might possibly rank as the scariest, bravest action you have ever taken. You probably feel relieved and guilty all at once. If you have children, you battled your decision until you knew it was the only way. Years, memories, experiences lead you to this moment; but it's only the threshold. Now, you need to prepare.

  1. Begin establishing new boundaries. Just in case this is an issue, begin to consider how you interact with your future ex spouse and change your boundaries. They don't need to know everything you think, feel, do, spend, buy, experience. This sort of sharing of information can be used against you and damage you. Focus on healing and taking care of the new relationship you have with your children.
  2. Get a plan together of how and when you will tell your family. If this decision was mutual, then perhaps you can create a plan as a couple uncoupling. If not, take time to think of family and friends and how best to announce your divorce. Take special care with any children involved and put their well-being at the forefront.
  3. Gather up the documents and information your lawyer needs. Your attorney will have a list of financial information, like debt, assets, and expenses, as well as property to divide. Begin now, since at the very beginning you still have relatively easy access to all this information. If you wait, your ex spouse might start hiding things or become difficult to reach.
  4. Decide your budget and begin thinking about where you will live. Your life will change. Your finances will change. A move might be in your future and you certainly need to watch every penny right now. Look at all the money coming in and going out and adjust NOW. Learn about benefits you might need. Consult with a financial adviser. Make this a priority and you can avoid huge issues later.
  5. Don't date. Until your divorce is finalized, it's better to stay single. Dating can distract you from the important issues that must be addressed. A new relationship can also be used against you in court. It's just better to try to wait.
  6. Gather your support group. Don't try to got through the emotions and stress of a divorce solo. You need the love and wisdom of friends and family who support you in your decision.
  7. Talk to your attorney. Discuss fees, timelines, and professional help from financial gurus and therapists. Your lawyer is an expert in this area, correct? Get what you are paying for out of your sessions and realize that not only does your attorney know how to handle your case, but they know how to help you plan for your future -- they've see this all before.

Compared to everything you will experience in the coming months, this list probably does not seem like much, but it will get you started. These seven things will help get you over the threshold and into the new life you and your family deserve.