Life is unpredictable. While we cannot prepare for every event or situation, we can prepare for a lot. Preparation is key in mitigating risk and certain decisions faced in a divorce involve an element of risk. For example, deciding on a financial settlement when you are not fully aware of your finances is risky. Being prepared in a divorce helps you make intelligent and informed decisions about your future. In fact, not being prepared is one of my top three divorce mistakes. If you are contemplating divorce, here are simple ways to prepare now:
Know what income you receive and what you spend each month
If this seems like a tall order, start by reviewing your bank statements. Do the same with credit card statements. Examine all deposits, charges and expenses.
Gather tax returns, retirement and investment statements, property tax and/or home mortgage statements
Your attorney will likely ask for these so collect them now and familiarize yourself. You need to know what you owe, own and earn. Studying these documents will help you.
Obtain a credit report for yourself
A credit report shows current and past debt obligations associated with your name and social security number. If you do not recognize any of the creditors or debts listed on your report, you should contact the creditor directly for more information.
Know what type of insurance policies you have in place and what you will no longer have in place after divorce
Do you have health, dental or vision insurance? Auto insurance? Life insurance? Become familiar with the existing benefits under each plan. If you have been putting off a specific medical or dental procedure, you may want to get it done before you change coverage.
Develop a plan
Create a plan for yourself that includes where you will live and how you will support yourself both in the early stages of divorce as well as post-divorce. This gives you direction as you go through the divorce process.
While we shouldn’t live in fear of traumatic or catastrophic events, a great deal of confidence comes when you prepare for divorce. More smart strategies and preparation tips are available in my books about divorce.