Starting a divorce can feel overwhelming, scary, defeating, liberating, all of the things. The biggest concern for people reaching out to me is simply not knowing where to start. There are so many decisions to be made and so many things that need to change it's daunting to even think about. It's easy to fall into the camp of 'analysis paralysis' if you don't have the right team in place, leaving you susceptible to settling for agreements that aren't in your best interest & terms you're not confident about.
My objective here is to help you focus on the top 3 things that would help you feel the most sense of control starting your process.
1. Make a list of all Accounts you & your partner have (joint or otherwise). Consider creating a spreadsheet or file where you store account numbers, login info like usernames & passwords, store statements any documentation that would help you or a professional understand the total picture of your marital assets.
2. Create a Budget. If you're the non-CFO spouse in the relationship, you may not be used to paying the bills. Making a Spending Plan will help determine if any Spousal or Child Support is warranted as well as give you a sense of where you can afford to live or what salary you'd need to make to continue your lifestyle or adjust to your new life.
3. Establish your own Credit Cards. The divorce process is expensive. You may want to consider hiring an attorney, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, like myself, a Mediator or any number of professionals. It may also be the case that one spouse moves money from joint spending accounts when they realize the divorce is moving forward. Make sure that you're able to fund your divorce and your lifestyle while you're in the process.
Bonus: Make a list of what's important to you, and maybe what you hope to gain by getting a divorce. Keep in mind that in a good negotiation, no one walks away entirely happy. It's good to make a list now of the important things you'd like to walk away from the relationship with so you can clearly define success during this process. For example, is there a particular item you'd really like to have, you'd like to stay in the current home or neighborhood, a minimum amount of cash or assets needed to fund your lifestyle, a particular custody arrangement, get that all down on paper and continue to use this list to regain perspective during this time.
It's my experience that getting these first few things taken care of will make you feel more confident interviewing professionals like myself or attornies and clarity on what the next steps may be. Being organized in this way will give you the energy to make the big important decisions that are coming your way. As a divorce professional, our job is to help you get the best possible outcome but sometimes it's hard if we don't have the facts of where you're starting and where you'd like to go. You can work with a CDFA pro to help set goals, develop a budget & create a list of household assets.
For more info on how I assist clients during a divorce visit: www.herplanning.com/divorce.
Download HerPlanning's Divorce Document Checklist to get started working towards feeling more in control of your divorce process.