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How to prepare for your divorce

Your reasons for wanting a divorce are as unique as your situation, but the process of divorce is fairly similar for everyone. Understanding the basics can help you decide what you want from your divorce so you can prepare. 

Here are some factors to consider. 

Matters involving children

Custody, visitation and support are typically the first things parents worry about. If you and your spouse can come up with a reasonable plan that addresses your unique family circumstances, a judge is likely to sign it without making adjustments that you may not feel are in your children’s best interests. 

Also note matters such as health and dental insurance, college education plans, housing and relationships with grandparents and other siblings and stepsiblings, if these are relevant. 

Division of property

Do you want to keep the house? Are there retirement benefits to divide? Some assets may be more important to you than others, such as real estate, investments, personal property and business interests. List these in order of priority and consider what you can compromise so that you are ready for negotiations. The courts want the division to be fair, so you must prepare to let go of things that will throw off the balance. 

Prepare documents, too, such as financial statements for your mortgage, credit cards and other debts, check stubs and income tax returns, and an inventory of personal property. You will need professional appraisals on your real estate, and perhaps on other assets, as well. 

Spousal support

Relevant to spousal support determinations are the length and standard of living of the marriage, earning potential and needs of each spouse, assets and liabilities of each spouse, and their age and health. Use these and other relevant matters to calculate how much spousal support you believe will be necessary so you can use the amount during negotiations or in court.