If you’re thinking of divorce, it may feel that the COVID-19 crisis is a roadblock to starting a new life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Now is an optimal time to prepare for your imminent split and position yourself for an easier process down the road.
Even if you don’t want to push forward immediately, you can begin taking these actions now to help make the process easier when the time comes:
Line Up Your Professional Team
– Do your research to find an attorney who is a good fit for you and the circumstances you may face in your divorce. Discretely ask for referrals from friends and family members. Talk to several attorneys before making your choice. (You may also need an estate attorney to draw up a new will once your divorce is final.)
– Hire your own accountant and financial advisor to help counsel you through pre- and post-divorce your budgeting and financial concerns.
– Enlist the help of a therapist or psychologist as you process your feelings and find constructive ways to deal with grief and stress.
Get Your Financial House in Order
– Make copies of your tax returns from the most recent three years as well as the supporting documents used to prepare those returns, If you don’t have a copy, request one from the IRS by using Form 4508.
– Analyze income and expenses by reviewing your last three years-worth of bank and credit card statements. Use this information to create your post-divorce budget.
– Gather up statements from your investments, checking, and savings accounts, as well as retirement accounts, annuities, long-term health insurance, real estate holdings, and other viable assets.
– Gather statements from all outstanding debt, including mortgage(s), credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc.
– Review your personal credit history and take steps to reduce your debt-to-income ratio when possible.
Strengthen Personal Networks
– Circle the wagons! Reconnect with good friends and family members. (However, resist the urge to connect with former romantic flames.) Create a go-to list of people you can rely.
– Take up healthy hobbies and activities, such as exercise classes, artistic endeavors, or continuing ed-classes.
– Rejoin your church or temple or become more active in your current spiritual community. Or renew your commitment to civic or volunteer organizations. Community is key when going through any major life change.
Re-evaluate Career Goals
– Dust off your resume and polish up your Linked-In page just in case divorce also sets in motion a change in jobs or careers.
– Explore options for attaining a higher degree or taking courses to enhance your earning potential
– Start networking with people who may be able to provide you with insight or connections into a role that might bring your greater job satisfaction or higher income. (Finding a new job can take time, so get the word out that you’re interested in exploring your career options.)
– If you’re happy in your present position, having a stable work-life may help you feel more secure when your marriage is ending. Talk to your boss or mentor about steps you might take to get that promotion or be tapped for the next cherry project.
Think of the Children
– Consider what custody arrangements might look like. If your spouse keeps your marital home, start thinking about housing options that provide you with optimal access to your children, their school(s) and activities.
– Read up on age-appropriate ways to explain your divorce to your children.
– Talk to a therapist or counselor about any specific concerns you may have about how your kids will respond to the change.
Remember, divorce is never easy, but if you take the time to think through key factors that will be impacted by this life-change, you can ease the stress and move forward in a conscious and healthy way.