Knowledge is Power. But in Divorce, Knowledge is EVERYTHING!
Are you thinking about divorce, but not sure where to start or who to turn to for help?
If you’re facing this difficult life transition, you may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious about what’s to come. Divorce is scary because there simply aren’t enough resources for people who face this often confusing and complicated process. Having been through a divorce personally, I can assure you, I know how you feel. Like any “unknown” you face in life, the more knowledge you gain before something happens, the more likely you are to prevail when it does happen.
Many people believe the first step in divorce is to consult with an attorney. While an attorney is an integral part of this process, seeking an attorney to educate you on the divorce process is not the best first step. The best first step you can take when facing divorce is to gain knowledge about what you have, what you want and what your options are. By doing this important discovery work, you’ll ensure an attorney serves your needs in a way that is empowering and cost-effective.
As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and trained mediator at Divorce U Solutions, my main focus is to help clients create a financial plan that protects them before, during and after divorce. By determining what needs they have now and in the future, analyzing tax ramifications of settlements options, and creating a plan for future expenses, they gain clarity and move forward with confidence through the entire process. You can take some of these important steps on your own. Although they require some time at the outset, they’ll prove invaluable as you proceed through a divorce. Not only will you have clarity about your finances, you’ll be a knowledgeable participant in the divorce process and be able to work more effectively with your attorney.
If you’re thinking about divorce, here are 6 steps to take before seeking an attorney
1. Gather Financial Documents
Credit card statements, bank statements, car loans, mortgage statements, insurance policies...gather and make copies. This may seem like a rather tedious task, but once you have copies of all of your financial documents, you’ll have a clear picture of your assets and liabilities.
2. Run a Credit Report
You can find numerous resources online that offer a free credit report. Choose one and review your entire credit report. Print the full report and make sure that everything on this report is valid by comparing this report to the statements you’ve gathered. If you find any discrepancies, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agency.
3. Get Organized
The more organized you are, the better you’ll fare in divorce. Label folders and place copies of all financial documents, your credit report and any other important documents in these folders. You can put them in a box for safe keeping or even ask a friend or family member to store them for you.
4. Create a Realistic Financial Plan
Now that you have copies of your financial documents and your credit report, begin to map out what you have and what you owe. Typically, assets and liabilities incurred during a marriage are considered marital property unless you have an agreement stating otherwise, or you have assets in your name that were never co-mingled during the marriage. An attorney will help you understand which are marital and which are non-marital assets.
5. Protect Your Privacy
This is a good time to create a new email address that only you have access to in order to protect your privacy in regards to attorney correspondence or correspondence with other divorce advisors, like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or therapist.
6. Learn More About Divorce
If you know you’re headed for divorce and want a more personalized, step-by-step approach, learn more about our new online video course, Divorce U: Navigate Your Divorce with Confidence and Clarity. This 11-part course takes you through each stage of divorce and offers tools, guides, and worksheets to help you prepare and plan for your new life.
While you may be feeling overwhelmed, uncertain and even fearful right now, the best way to face any unknown is to gain the knowledge you need before spending thousands of dollars with an attorney. When you have a clear picture of your finances, you’ll know what’s possible for you before, during and after divorce. This clarity will give you the confidence to be part of the process so you can thrive instead of simply survive. Remember, knowledge is power. But in divorce, knowledge is EVERYTHING.