First of all this is never an easy moment, even if expected. Even if you are the one saying it. So start by taking a deep breath. Your life is about to change big time and you will need to get ready for those changes. The top 10 things to do.
- Collect current pay stubs and tax records for the past three to five years; including W2’s.
- If you don’t pay the bills, and usually pay little attention, find out what they are. You will need to know how much is rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance (car and medical), food, gas and other commuting expenses, uninsured medical costs, etc.
- Come to an agreement with your partner on how and when you will tell your kids.
- Consult a lawyer. Talking to friends is good for moral support, but many people have divorce experiences. Divorce outcomes can vary wildly and you should definitely spend the time and money on a consult with a good lawyer.
- Tell your family and friends, get the support you need.
- Copy retirement statements showing current balances.
- Copy bank statements showing current balances.
- Tell your kid’s teacher so they can be aware that your child may be emotional or extra sensitive.
- Tell your boss so they can be aware of the extra stress on you.
- Exercise and take care of yourself.
The top 10 things not to do.
- Don’t tell your children without an agreement between you and your spouse how that will happen.
- Don’t announce it on social media or vent your feelings there. Likewise, if you are the leaving spouse, don’t flaunt your new found happiness on social media sites.
- Don’t go on a spending spree, racking up credit cards, buying a car, emptying bank accounts, etc. You may think this is getting even, but it will make you look bad and both of you will ultimately have to pay these bills at a time when money will be tight.
- Don’t threaten to take away access to the children. They are not property or pawns to be played. They love both their parents and that should be honored.
- Don’t introduce your children to new dating relationships before your divorce is final.
- In fact, if at all possible, don’t date while you are in the process of finalizing a divorce. Give yourself some time to heal.
- Don’t cancel your spouse’s insurance coverage, cell phone, gym membership without agreements that you are each going to get your own coverage. Some courts issue restraining orders, restricting this kind of behavior.
- Don’t hide information from your spouse. Both of you need full access to financial information so you can make decisions about the future.
- Don’t try to do a divorce on your own without at least getting some legal advice. What you think is simple, might not be that simple from a legal standpoint.
- Don’t turn this sad time into a war with your former spouse. Keep your dignity and consider using collaborative methods for resolving disputes.
Divorce is one of life’s major stressors. It’ll be a hard year, but you will get through it and so will your children. How you do it, is up to you. My advice is to take the high road whenever possible.