The first thing you need to do if you think you may be getting divorced in the near future is gathering information. Educate yourself about the state of your finances. Open your mail. Write down the amounts of your monthly expenses, and pay attention to where your money is going. Make copies of your last three years of income tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, retirement accounts, and other financial records and put the copies in a safe place – preferably outside of your home.
Once you’ve educated yourself about your family finances, educate yourself about the divorce process. Read books on divorce. Do a little internet research. Then consult with a divorce attorney and find out about the law as it might apply to your circumstances. Many lawyers give free consultations. Book one. Learn as much as you can about the divorce process, what’s involved in getting a divorce, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
The final thing you might want to do is set up a supportive network around you. You don’t have to necessarily tell the whole world you are contemplating divorce. But it`s probably not a bad idea to get a counselor. If you think there is still a chance you could save your marriage, see if your spouse will go to couples counseling. Otherwise, at least get a therapist for yourself. And, last but not least, be kind to yourself. Take your time. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you are making the best decision for you and your family. Then, if you do decide to get divorced, you can do so from a place of true strength.
Karen A. Covy, J.D. is a divorce attorney and family law mediator in Chicago Illinois. She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends, How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially and Legally.