Today’s topic – Preparing for a Divorce while You’re Happily Married might seem antithetical, if one is indeed happily married. However, we do things to prepare for the worst possible scenario all the time. We participate in fire drills at school, work and hopefully home. We practice earthquake drills in the event one happens and even prior to marriage, we often sign pre-nuptial agreements in the event the marriage goes south. Preparation can be a very helpful thing, especially if divorce becomes an inevitable resolution to an unhappy marriage.
Knowing how the process of divorce works can be helpful to keeping down costs for both parties. It can also help each partner to remain as calm and collected as possible during a very hectic and chaotic time. This is especially important if you share children and want to do what is best for them.
It may not be true that half of all marriages end in divorce (it’s less than that, though difficult to calculate), as Americans, we tend to divorce a lot. Thinking about something as depressing as the end of a marriage might be difficult, especially if you are newly married, engaged or have been married for some time now. However, it’s important to be prepared for the worst so that you can navigate the ups and downs and ins and out as graciously as possible. The following tips can be viewed as a drill of sorts, get your ducks in a row and hope that you never need to use them.
Preparing for a Divorce While You’re Happily Married
Know your spouses income and assets – It’s important to know how much your spouse is worth, what he or she is spending their money on, how much debt they have and how much they have saved for retirement, if any. This is crucial if you are a new parent and provide stay at home care. Keep copies of all tax returns, IRAs, 401Ks, credit card statements, etc. In the event of a divorce, you may not have access to this information. It’s possible, even your right, to have access, but you may have to utilize an attorney to make that happen.
Know your household expenses – This should be something that is reviewed each month, sadly most people don’t. Sit down with your spouse and go through your monthly expenses so you know if you are over extended. This is a great time to get a hold of your finances and might even help prevent a future divorce. Work to eliminate as much debt as possible, as a couple, and you’ll discover that your marriage can be less stressful.
Stay connected – If you’re a stay-at-home parent be sure to stay connected to friends and previous co-workers. In the event of a divorce, you’ll find this network to be indispensable. Whether you lean on these people for emotional support or for finding a job in the future, having your own network of friends and colleagues will help you land on your feet faster and firmer than if you didn’t have access to this kind of support.
Make future decisions – If you have children now is the time to discuss issues such as schooling, religion, travel, and other possibly contentious topics. Knowing you agree on these issues now will help make the transition later much easier. You won’t be navigating unchartered waters if you’ve discussed saving for college, traveling abroad or whether or not to participate in religious activities. Making these decisions now can save you legal fees down the road and can prevent bickering and frustration as well.
Vow to remain respectful – Divorce is difficult and it can be messy. Refraining from name calling, arguing, sabotaging and all the other things we do to hurt one another will make the process much easier, will cost less in legal fees and will reduce stress on each other, family and friends and especially any children.
It’s helpful to revisit these issues on a regular basis. As situations change so will your beliefs about the decisions you’ve made regarding these issues. Plan on going over these items once a year to stay up to date. Being prepared can go a long way to preventing a horrible ending, even if you do divorce.