17 Ways to Prepare for a Divorce

17 checklist items to follow when preparing for divorce

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No one wants the divorce process to last for any longer than it has to.

A divorce is an emotional roller-coaster and the quicker you can get off the ride, the better.

There are things you can do to help make the divorce preparation process go smoother.

Being prepared for a divorce can reduce stress and conflict, and can also help you avoid post-divorce snags.

A few things to ask yourself when filing for divorce:

1. Consult with an Affordable Divorce Lawyer

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Consulting with a lawyer during the the beginning stages of a divorce is beneficial on many levels.

A qualified lawyer lets you know what your options are, give you a rough estimate of what your divorce will cost, and when you do decide to file for a divorce, you already know someone to handle your case.

Don’t just use the first divorce lawyer that you know of.

Even when you are in the consulting stage, still do your research when deciding who to talk to.

Fortunately, many divorce lawyers offer free consultation.

 2. Organize Your Financial Information

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There are numerous documents that your divorce lawyer will need. The list can include

  • tax returns: state, local, and federal
  • documents related to martial debt, assets, and property valuations
  • pay stubs from all sources of employment for the past year
  • bank statements
  • joint financial statements
  • benefits information

Depending on you or your spouse’s type of employment, there are additional documents you may need. We recommend at least four copies of each document.

3. Check That Your Taxes Are Up To Date

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While gathering all your tax return you may find errors that either you or your spouse made.

Make sure that all local, state, and federal taxes are paid to date.

4. Gather Real Estate Related Documents

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Along with financial information, real estate documents are among the many papers that you need to organize before getting a divorce.

  • current mortgage statements on any mortgages you or your spouse has on real estate property
  • documents that show the legal description of real estate owned together or separately
  • tax assessor’s statement regarding any real estate
  • refinanced real estate documents
  • real estate initial purchase documents

5. Review Insurance Coverage

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If you or your children are covered on your spouse’s insurance (or vice versa), get dental and medical check-ups done while you are covered.

Look into getting your own coverage for car, health, and home insurance to help you prepare your post-divorce budget.

6. Record Valuables


Valuables don’t just mean the heirloom broach passed down to you from your great great grandmother.

Valuables can include other contents of your home, jewelry, vehicles, and other property. One way to document your possessions is to videotape them.

This provides proof of existence and help you keep track of everything.

If your divorce is not amicable, you should consider placing certain valuables, such as documents and jewelry, in a safety deposit box.

7. Check Your Credit Score

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When preparing for a divorce, get a copy of your credit score.

Ugh, we know.

But it is better to know where you stand before filing for a divorce.

If your credit score is poor, start paying off debt and work on cleaning up your score.

9. Establish Your Own Credit

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If you don’t have a credit report, establish it while you are still married. Apply for a credit card in your name only.

These things can help you qualify to make necessary purchases such as a car or house after your divorce.

And remember, yes, you want to establish credit, but avoid building any additional debt.

Keep assets as liquid as possible.

Also, another way to protect your finances is to open a checking account in your own name.

10. Inventory Assets That Are Solely Yours

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This is when you consider anything you owned before your marriage, anything that was given to only you, such as a piece of property, vacation home, or an inheritance.

11. Know Your Expenses Inside and Out

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Even the most neutral, amicable divorce can still cost money.

Look at your expenses in detail and cut out anything unnecessary.

This will help build your savings, and accommodate the divorce expenses to come.

12. Open a P.O. Box

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When preparing for a divorce, there are many important legal documents being collected.

And not all divorces are wanted by both spouses.

A PO box is a safe place to have legal documents sent to and keeps them secure and private.

13. Do Not Start A New Relationship

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In some states, a relationship outside of your marriage can lead to contention during the formal divorce process.

In you live in a state where this is an issues, note that phone calls, emails, bills, and other records can be used in an at-fault state to prove existence of an outside of marriage relationship.

Hold off until your divorce is settled and the paperwork is complete.

14. Come Up With a Post-Divorce Budget

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Once you’ve gathered all your financial information, take a long look at it.

Use this information to create a potential future budget.

15. Talk to Somebody

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Whether you want to talk to a friend, family, or therapist, it’s important to discuss what you are going through.

Not bottling everything up can help keep your head clear and decision making process logical.

16. Avoid Rash Decisions

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Divorces, or even the idea of a potential divorce, can lead to overwhelming emotions.

And when we are emotional, we often make rash decisions.

Unfortunately, those decisions can have a negative effect.

For example, it may be tempting to move out of your family home, but don’t just act on it.

Discuss with your attorney what legal implications could happen as a result of you moving out. Take your time when making important decisions, and talk them out with your lawyer.

17. Don’t Leave Your Children In the Dark

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If you have children, they will undoubtedly be affected by your divorce.

Even if the divorce is civil and mutual, their lives will change. Don’t hide the divorce from them until the day that everything is final.

Be there for them throughout the process and let them ask questions.

Also make sure you are prepared for any child custody or child support matters that may arise.

Divorce attorneys in St. Louis

Whether you are contemplating a divorce, already in your preparation stage, or looking to file, McChesney & Orwerth is known as one of the best divorce and family law firms in St. Louis.

Even if you are not sure about your situation, or what you want to do, you can contact us for a free consultation.

We are happy discuss your options and explain how divorce and or family law matters work in Missouri.

You can fill out a form for a quick and free consultation here.