1. Call an attorney and schedule an initial consultation.
For less than $400, you can talk to an attorney for an hour. You’ll get to talk to an expert about a critical life change that you may not have talked to anyone else about. Besides getting your feelings off your chest, think about it: would you go buy a house without talking briefly to a local real estate agent or at least looking online at the local prices? Of course not. A good consultation can save you several costly mistakes that you might not have thought you were about to make.
2. Gather all of your financial documents.
Next up, time to look at the money. Tax returns, bank statements, stock portfolios, mortgage statements, credit card statements, retirement statements, insurance plans, real estate appraisals; gather them all together and put them in one place.
3. Make a budget (or two).
How are you going to get by while you’re in the middle of the divorce? And then make another one for the long term (after the divorce).
4. Begin researching the effects of divorce on kids.
If you have not yet told your kids you’re getting divorced – and it’s a hard, painful thing to do-time for some homework. There are many excellent books and online resources that address this important issue. Check out our Reading Resources page.
5. Read up on how to answer your kids’ questions.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy with a little online research to find out the most common questions kids ask their parents about divorce. You can be ready with good, well-thought-out answers.
6. Build your team of family and friends.
One of the biggest challenges if you’re getting divorced is figuring out which friends you’re going to confide in. And let’s face it: this is often the time you discover who your real friends are. Choose carefully. Divorce is the time to say very little outside of your lawyer’s office. You don’t want to talk at length to someone who may end up on your spouse’s witness list at trial.
7. Build your expert dream team.
Most people don’t know this, but you’re going to need more than a lawyer to get through your divorce. In some cases you may also need a financial expert, a CPA, a parenting expert and often a personal therapist or counselor. Be sure the lawyer you choose has an excellent team of experts who can support you through this overwhelming experience.