If you're secretly planning for a separation or divorce, it's important to take certain steps to protect yourself and prepare for the process ahead.
Statistics show that planning before sharing the news with your spouse can be an effective way to prepare for a divorce.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, they found that 51% of adults who have gone through a divorce say they were surprised by their spouse's decision to end the marriage.
This is a quick list of things you should be doing in advance of your split so you are in the best position possible to navigate what's next, whether it's a trial separation, reconciliation, or divorce.
Here are 10 steps to take when secretly planning for a separation or divorce: Discreetly Preparing For A Divorce
Gather Your Documents - Collect financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and credit card statements. This will help you understand your financial situation and prepare for negotiations. Here's an easy to use digital worksheet that walks you through what to get your hands on. Discreetly Preparing For A Divorce
Build A Support System - Confide in trusted friends or family members who can provide emotional support during this difficult time.
Create An Accurate Budget - Develop a budget that reflects your current financial realities and allows you to anticipate how that could change post-divorce. This will help you make informed decisions as you move forward. This monthly budget calculator prompts you with every possible monthly expense to fill in and does the math for you!
Secure Your Important Documents - Keep important documents (or copies of them!) like passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies in a safe and accessible location.
Think About Your Parenting Plan - If you have children, consider your future parenting plan and work to establish a stable and supportive environment for them. Check out this post on Very Well Family about a few different custody schedule options, and this one about How To Plan A Parenting Schedule That Works For Everyone. They really break down the options thoroughly and give you sample calendar templates that you can use to help you puzzle out which might work best for you.
Consult With A Family Law Attorney - It's important to seek legal advice before initiating a divorce. An attorney can provide guidance on your legal rights and help you prepare for the process ahead. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation - ask before booking! Go into this meeting with everything you've prepared (as listed above!) so you can make the most of your time together. Finding the right attorney is kinda like Goldilocks finding the right bed... you might need to try a few before finding the right fit. Download a copy of my freebie 24 Questions To Ask A Divorce Attorney Or Mediator to get started.
Figure Out Where You're Going To Live - Think about your housing options post-divorce and consider whether you'll need to make any changes to your living arrangements.
When In Doubt, Don't Post It! - Use caution when using electronic devices and social media, as these can be used against you in divorce proceedings.
Address The Emotional Side Of Divorce - Consider seeking counseling or therapy to help you manage the emotional challenges of divorce.
Educate Yourself - Even by reading this post you're taking steps to inform yourself about the process which puts you in the best position to navigate what's next.
Remember, divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, but with careful planning and support, you can successfully navigate this transition and move forward with confidence.