Divorce is a difficult process no matter what the circumstances are, but with some preparation, women can cut down on the stress and uncertainty of life both during and after divorce. Though it's a stressful time for everyone involved, life can become even more difficult and complicated for women, especially those who are mothers. To help make the process just a little bit easier, we compiled some bits of divorce advice for women that you can use when preparing for your divorce.
Read on for advice everyone women getting divorced needs to hear.
Start a War Chest
You're going to need your own money for a divorce, and you'll have to be able to support yourself and your children for a while if you're dependent on your spouse since there's a possibility your spouse could decide to cut off support suddenly, so make sure you're prepared before you file for divorce. "A lot of women still leave this stuff to their husbands, and they live in what I call the financial dark," says divorce attorney Jacqueline Newman.
You'll also probably need funds to hire a lawyer. If there's any way to start a separate account to guard against future financial contingencies, now's the time to do it.
If you have to borrow money from a relative or friend, be sure to sign a promissory note so the court will look at it as a loan that you have to repay and not as a gift.
Keep a Divorce Calendar
If you're currently using your iPhone calendar or day planner, include your divorce events. You'll need to track meetings with your lawyer and make special note of court deadlines. It may be helpful to also keep track of discussions with your spouse. "I tell people to keep a diary: when who is going away, who is going to what, like parent-teacher conferences or play dates; if there are certain fights or occurrences that you want to document," Newman says.
A divorce calendar may be used as evidence in your case when your spouse didn't keep an appointment or violated an agreement or court order. Visitation dates with children need to be written down. Keep track of appointments with your children’s teachers, doctors, coaches, and tutors. This may become evidence of your participation in your children’s lives.
Make a To-Do List
You'll need to stay organized and set your priorities during a divorce. List all the items you have to accomplish and mark them off as you go through them.
Prepare a Divorce Notebook
Pro tip: A divorce produces a lot of paperwork. The simplest way to keep track of all these papers is with a three-ring binder and a three-hole punch. Put papers in chronological order and make an index.
Set up a Divorce File
You may prefer to set up individual files for various categories of divorce papers. Some examples are correspondence with your attorney, drafts of agreements, financial information, and pleadings. Files will help you keep papers neat and organized.
Stick To a Routine
Divorce is going to turn your life upside down, so it'll help if you try to keep things as normal as possible. Don't skip meals or change sleeping habits—routines can help you keep focus. Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress. If you can, try to keep up your social life as well. Your friends can be a great support system, so don't isolate yourself from them.
Try to maintain a positive outlook and do not let yourself be lured into needless conflicts with your spouse. You will need his signature on a settlement agreement before your divorce is over and you will still be parents together for years after the divorce.
Make a Plan
Take it one day at a time. Focus on the present and not the past. Try to control only those things within your control. Many things in a divorce are outside of your control, but you cannot blow those things out of proportion. Make a plan and work on it to take control of your divorce and not let it take control of you.
Gather Financial Information
The more you can organize your own financial documents, the more you will reduce your attorney fees and improve your chances of success. You are going to have to gather and organize a lot of information for your attorney or your case. A good way of organizing the information you find is a financial statement which can be used as a checklist.
Many courts have a financial statement form available at the court clerk’s office and sometimes online. If you can obtain this form and fill it out, it will help you gather and organize your financial information. Give it to your lawyer at the first meeting to save time and expense.
Do Your Research
It is valuable for you to learn everything you can about divorce early in the process. If you know little or nothing about the process, you may not make the best decisions or choices. You can raise your comfort level and your odds of success by researching and determining what is going to happen before it happens. It’s a good idea to learn about the basics of divorce law in your state early in the process, but keep in mind that every divorce is different.