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How to Get A Divorce...A Step By Step Guide
by Kim Hess

The decision to get a divorce is difficult and life changing. Once this crucial decision has been made, it is important to be properly prepared for the possible difficult divorce process ahead

Step 1

  • Make a strong effort to diffuse anger during your divorce.  The angrier you or your spouse behaves, the harder your divorce will be on both of you. 

Step 2

  • Research the divorce process in your area.  Divorce laws vary among different states and counties.  Visiting your family law department located in your local courthouse will provide you with free information regarding divorce in your area.

Step 3

  • Consult an attorney.  Even if you and your former partner are amicable or decide to use a mediator instead of lawyers, it is best to meet for an initial consultation to explain the process, your options, and your legal rights.

Step 4

  • Gather all important paperwork, information and financial statements.  This includes  account numbers and addresses of all assets and debts (titles to houses, cars, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mortgages, loans, credit cards), as well as tax statements for the past five years, pay stubs, retirement accounts, and employment information for both parties.

Step 5

  • Close or freeze joint accounts.

Step 6

  • Make sure to keep track of all the debts you pay or incur once you have separated from your spouse.

Step 7

  • Assess your financial situation.  Budget what your income and expenses will be after your divorce. Find out the process in your area to start child and alimony support. It is a good idea to use a financial planner who specializes in divorces to help you.

Step 8

  • If you are not already working, now is a good time to revisit and revise your resume.  Also, start considering school or additional training to advance your career or to reenter the workforce.

Step 9

  • Get a complete medical and dental checkup for you and your children.  Begin to research getting your own coverage for health, auto, life and home.  Include these expenses in your post divorce budget.

Step 10

  • Document Valuables.  List and videotape your possessions in your house, vehicles, and other property.  If things come up missing during the divorce your will be able to prove their existence.  Also, consider a safety deposit box or having a friend or family member store important documents or valuables, such as jewelry, especially if your spouse is volatile and may destroy these items.

Step 11

  • Do not move out of the family home.  Check with a divorce attorney first.  In some states leaving the home may hurt chances of keeping it or may also affect child custody or child support decisions.

Divorce is a grueling process that involves a lot of patience and resolve.  You will need to be your own best advocate. Take your time and do not rush things to ensure that you receive the most fair and beneficial outcome for you and your family.  

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