It is the month of reinvention, and it’s just around the corner. We vow to lose weight, be healthier, add things to our life that will bring positive change, and move forward with hard decisions that we may have been putting off. For many, this includes filing for divorce.
The Month of Divorce and Reinvention
If this is you, follow these steps to reduce conflict and improve the process for everyone involved.
- Do your research – what are the divorce laws where you live? Are you in a “no-fault” state (you don’t have to prove any wrongdoing by either spouse)? Is there a waiting period? What are the residency requirements?
- Contact an attorney or coach now – This will help you to better understand the landscape in your state, ask your questions and start thinking about what legal approach is best for you (collaboration, mediation, pro se). This can also be a valuable step in setting the tone you want for this separation and divorce. Choosing the high road now will likely pay off throughout the process, saving you time and money and reducing stress.
- Prepare messages and consider timing – Think carefully about how and with whom you will need to share this information. Have you already talked with your spouse, and you’re making the announcement together? If you’re sharing the news with your children, make sure you choose a time that allows for questions and the inevitable emotional response. Do you have kids home from college? Give them time to process this before they go back. Additionally, think about the words you want to use and those you don’t.
- Do your financial homework – Make a list of all your accounts and passwords and make copies of any insurance policies, trusts, real estate documents, and retirement information that you can find. You should also think about your budget and financial security. What do you want and need, and are they the same?
- Finally, plan for what you’ll need to do post-conversation. Will you want to stay in the house? Do you need to alert a friend or family member that you may be coming over? Do you anticipate anger or frustration? How might you respond to a difficult conversation?
Brave and Difficult First Step
If you think your spouse or others will be surprised by this announcement, give them time to process it. It’s easy to forget that you’ve been thinking about this and planning for some time, and they may need to catch up to you.
Perhaps most importantly, give yourself credit for taking a brave and difficult step. It may not be easy, but if you know, it’s right for you, trust yourself and remember that you are worth the effort.