Marital separation can be one of the most challenging times in a couple's lives.
Emotions run high, uncertainty creeps in, and big anxieties are triggered. Preparing before someone moves out helps you create clarity and understanding about what's next for you and your spouse
Preparation not only empowers but also provides solace amidst the turbulence. In fact, according to a study by the American Sociological Association, around 80% of separations eventually lead to divorce, highlighting the necessity to prepare early, even before a spouse departs the family home. How to prepare for a marital separation
Here's a quick list of 7 things you should do in advance of a marital separation:
Marital Separation Planning Step 1: Financial Readiness Howo prepare for a marital separation
Begin your journey of preparation by attaining a comprehensive understanding of your financial situation. Compile documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, bank and credit card statements, retirement accounts, mortgages, and insurance policies. Now how much income you and your spouse generate, the value of savings and investment portfolios, and most importantly, your monthly expenses.
The Divorce Planner has two digital tools to take the guess work out of what to do. Check out the Monthly Budget Calculator and What To Gather worksheet. They will walk you through everything you need to collect, help you assess your current financial realities, and project potential budget changes you need to anticipate after a separation.
Step 2: Document Organization
Organization is the critical next step. Having every document available and accessible eases the process for both parties involved. Keep important paperwork like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, and property deeds in a secure location. Make copies of all relevant documents for backup.
Consider uploading all of this information to a cloud based storage service, on your hard drive, or put paper copies everything into a folder or binder. That way you'll always know where everything is and have easy access to them.
Step 3: Credit Scores
Often overlooked in the flurry of divorce preparation, it's crucial to pull both yours and your spouse's credit reports before any separation. This will highlight any potential credit misunderstandings, debts, or other areas of concern that will need to be addressed.
Step 4: Seek Legal & Financial Advice
Chatting with a lawyer helps ensure your legal rights are protected, while financial advisors can provide advice tailored to your situation. These professionals can lay down the roadmap through divorce-related challenges. Make sure to do step one before meetings so you have all the pertinent information an attorney and financial planner will need in order to give you accurate guidance.
Download our freebie, 24 Questions To Ask A Divorce Attorney Or Mediator to help you start thinking about what questions you should be asking during consultations.
PRO TIP: Some divorce attorneys and mediators offer free consultations. Make sure to ask before booking!
Step 5: Drafting a Budget
A budget is a realistic appraisal of the costs you'll face living separately. Not only does it map out your expenses. If you end up move on to divorce, it also helps you assess if there will be gaps in what it actually costs to live your life versus what you could potentially be awarded in alimony or child support. And don't forget to factor in any costs that you didn't share as a couple, such as insurance.
Check out this post about 6 Overlooked Expenses To Consider During A Separation Or Divorce.
Step 6: Assess Your Living Situation
Contemplating where to live during a marital separation may be challenging, but you have more options than you may realize. Start by considering your personal network. You could potentially stay with friends or family, which can also provide emotional support during this trying time.
Another option is to explore rental properties. To find an affordable and convenient rental, start your search online using trusted real estate websites and apps. You can also enlist the help of a real estate broker who understands your unique situation and budget limitations.
Should you opt to purchase a home, it's essential to consult with a financial advisor or attorney. They can provide insight into how this could affect your finances during the divorce process.
Step 7: Custodial and Parenting Considerations
If you have children, it’s important to have a preliminary plan for who they will live with, access schedules, and how you will share parental responsibilities.
In creating your parenting plan, there are some essential factors to consider, including:
each parent's work schedule, the children's school schedule and extra-curricular activities, transportation, and the age and temperament of the children. It's crucial to also consider holidays, birthdays, and special events in the schedule.
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.
Always prioritize the best interest and well-being of your children in every decision. These resources are designed to assist you in building a comprehensive and practical parenting arrangement. Always remember, despite the difficulties of separation, this plan is an opportunity to create a stable, loving environment for your children post-separation.
Whether you’re going through a separation or divorce, we at The Divorce Planner are here to provide empowering information and supportive resources.