Unfortunately, many marriages fail. According to the American Psychological Association, the number of marriages that end in divorce is between 40 and 50 percent. There are many good reasons to seek a divorce. A toxic relationship can be detrimental to both participants. However, divorce isn’t something you should rush into head first. Below are three important things you should do first.
1. Prepare Financial Documentation
One thing you should absolutely do before entering into divorce proceedings or even telling your spouse you want to get divorce is to obtain copies of important financial documents. This is especially the case if you are the spouse with less income or assets in your control. If you don’t obtain documentation to verify income levels, asset values, expenses, liabilities and more, this documentation may conveniently disappear when you need it.
Divorce is a legal process. If you can’t prove something to the court, the court must assume it does not exist. Get copies of your spouse’s tax returns, bank statements, paystubs, retirement income, stock portfolio and more and hand it over to a lawyer. This will help insure that your divorce settlement will not be skewed due to missing records.
2. Start Saving
According to NBC News and Forbes, the price of a divorce can range between $15,000 and $30,000. The length of divorce proceedings can last anywhere from three months to two years. If the divorce is contested and fails to go to mediation, expect it to take longer and be much more expensive.
With all of that in mind, you need to start saving immediately. If you rely on your spouse’s income, a divorce can definitely be a strong financial hit that can devastate you. While you may receive something in the final divorce settlement or decision, that could be far down the road. Make sure you start preparing early to make sure you have enough to live on during a separation until the divorce is over. You should probably start planning multiple months ahead.
3. Pay off Your Personal Debt
Something else you should certainly do to prepare for a divorce is eliminating your personal debt. Things like credit card debt that is under your name will not magically disappear after a divorce settlement. In fact, you will likely be left with it without the buffer of access to all of your spouse’s income and assets.
If you feel your marriage is on the rocks, you may want to push off the divorce until you pay off your credit card debt, student loans or any other debt you may have. This way, when you do get divorced, you won’t be as bogged down by your debt when you try to make it on your own.