New Year, New Life?

Consider These Five Tips When Thoughts Turn to Divorce

If you’re thinking of ending your marriage in the new year, you’re not alone. January is “divorce month” with the number of filings increasing by one-third more than normal. Why? Many couples may have decided to postpone the inevitable to not disrupt the holidays, or some just determine to make a clean break with the start of a new year. Whatever the reasons, experts agree that there are important factors to consider before you initiate divorce.

Support and Solutions (SAS) for Women cofounders and divorce coaches, Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin, caution their clients to look before they leap. “You may not know if you want a divorce or not, but you know things aren’t working the way they are now,” says Mishkin.

In their online instructional video, Caldwell and Mishkin provide these pre-divorce suggestions:

  1. Mind Your Money. Create an account that you can access if you need it. If you don’t have money set aside for a “rainy day,” now’s the time. Set a reasonable savings goal and time frame.
  2. Gather Financial Info. Organize your financial information, including bank statements, account numbers for investment, retirement and loan accounts, copies of deeds or property titles, employee benefit package infos, wills and trust documents, insurance policies and tax returns from the last three to five years.
  3. Create a Safe Haven. Change passwords to your email account or set up a new one for the purpose of gathering legal and counseling information. Use this account to make inquires and use to find divorce resources, such as newsletters, videos, etc.
  4. Avoid Venting on Social Media. What you write and post online may be there forever.Not sure what could be harmful? There’s an easy way to check yourself. “Before you hit share, think about whether you’d be ok with your kids seeing each comment you put out there,” says Caldwell.
  5. Don’t Self-Isolate. Just as it’s unwise to broadcast your plans to divorce to the world, resist the urge to withdraw completely. Choose your confidantes wisely. Put together a group of trusted friends, family members and professionals to help you through the emotional and logistical hurdles.

“There are things you can begin to do right now before you make any big decisions,” says Caldwell. “Divorce is not just a legal dilemma, but a whole life challenge.” It effects your finances, your home life, your parenting and your career — your whole identity and your heart, mind, body and soul.

Before you make a decision, meet with a professional — a divorce coach, lawyer and/or therapist. Remember, just because you meet with a divorce attorney, doesn’t mean you’re going to divorce. It only serves to prepare and educate you about your options. And having options can lead to a brighter outlook no matter what you decide. As Caldwell says, “Being proactive doesn’t mean anything other than you are taking measures to take care of yourself.”