8 Ways to Emotionally and Financially Prepare for the Divorce Process

Navigating the emotional and financial challenges of divorce can be daunting. We’ve gathered eight insightful responses from professionals, including a Certified Divorce Coach and a Chief Financial Officer, to provide guidance. From understanding the role of a Certified Divorce Coach to learning how to save money for anticipated expenses, this article offers a wealth of advice to assist individuals during this challenging time.

  • Seek a Certified Divorce Coach
  • Explore Non-Adversarial Divorce Resources
  • Educate Yourself and Build a Team
  • Understand Finances and Seek Therapeutic Support
  • Gather Financial Documents and Trust Advisors
  • Practice Meditation as an Emotional Anchor
  • Set a Legal Budget, Avoid Extra Cash
  • Save Money for Anticipated Expenses

Seek a Certified Divorce Coach

Preparing for the divorce process gives clients the confidence to move forward with their litigation and handle any unexpected roadblocks. 

As a certified divorce coach, the role is to help clients manage emotions during the process, especially when they feel overwhelmed, unfocused, and helpless. Many clients are dealing with an uncooperative spouse, co-parenting issues, infidelity, and feeling guilt and embarrassment about going through a divorce

As a coach, the role is to act as their “sounding board” and “thinking partner” as they work through these frustrations to help the client thrive in their post-divorce lives—a helpful new resource for litigants. 

Being prepared financially is just as significant. Many clients feel “out of the loop” with finances, and the role is to assist clients in creating a solid budget, reflecting their income (if any) and their expenses… including what they may need financially in their post-divorce lives.

Julie Rountree, Certified Divorce Coach, Divorce Coaching Solutions

Explore Non-Adversarial Divorce Resources

Emotional and financial preparation is essential to ensure a smooth legal divorce process. Exploring options such as discernment counseling or a healing separation with qualified mental health professionals can be a valuable resource to help divorcing couples move forward with respect and compassion. 

A comprehensive understanding of the family’s financial landscape is imperative. Seeking the assistance of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst may be helpful. Last, understanding the differences between litigation, collaborative divorce, and divorce mediation is highly recommended. Finding divorce professionals who align with your goals regarding transitioning your family through the divorce process is essential. 

State organizations, like the Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce, are dedicated to promoting non-adversarial divorce practices. Such organizations can serve as informative platforms and assist in finding divorce professionals well-versed in non-adversarial divorce.

Rosemarie Ferrante, Collaborative Divorce Attorney, Divorce Mediator, Divorce Mediation Center of Fairfield County, LLC

Educate Yourself and Build a Team

The best way to prepare yourself emotionally and financially for the divorce process is to educate yourself. Gather information in four basic areas: what you own, what you owe, what’s coming in, and what’s going out. 

This information enables you to understand what funds your lifestyle and what you will need going forward. It also helps you to negotiate favorably in the settlement. Build a solid team with your attorney/mediator, accountant or CPA, mortgage broker, and CDFA to help you understand and navigate the finances.

Renee Senes, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Divorce Financial Sense, LLC

Understand Finances and Seek Therapeutic Support

The best way for individuals to financially prepare for the divorce process is to have a solid understanding of their finances and the documents to back up that understanding. They also need to organize that information in a usable way, i.e., create a budget and balance sheet.

The best way to get yourself emotionally ready for a divorce is to work with a therapist. You have to allow yourself to feel. Otherwise, you’ll never heal from your divorce. But if you let your emotions get out of control, you’ll drive up your divorce’s drama, cost, and expense.

The biggest resource available to assist divorcing individuals is the internet—not that you should believe everything that’s posted online! But you can search online for divorce professionals (lawyers, coaches, therapists, etc.) and divorce support groups to help you through.

Karen Covy, Coach, Speaker, Lawyer

Gather Financial Documents and Trust Advisors

The best way to prepare for the emotionally grueling process of divorce is to educate yourself and build your team of trusted advisors. The more information you have about your family finances, the better off you will be. 

Gather your tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, Social Security benefit statements, and all other important financial information to have them handy when your lawyer needs them. Being informed about your family finances is critical to an equitable outcome. 

Once the divorce is underway, your access to this information may be blocked. Build your team early on: Get a therapist, financial advisor, and lawyer in place to advise you every step of the way. If you try to do this while in the throes of the divorce, it may be too late to get the professionals you trust. Be proactive to protect yourself.

Gabrielle Clemens, Managing Director –  Wealth Advisor, Senior Portfolio Manager – Portfolio Focus

Practice Meditation as an Emotional Anchor

Meditation acts as an anchor, grounding us amidst the emotional ups and downs that divorce can bring. It allows you to reconnect with your inner self and understand your emotions and thoughts, thus finding clarity and balance and building emotional resilience. 

There was a client who, through consistent meditation, transformed feelings of resentment and anger into understanding and acceptance, allowing him to let go of these harmful and sometimes destructive emotions. 

Beginners are suggested to start with the “Headspace” meditation app. It’s easy to use, user-friendly, and tailored to any life challenges, including divorce.

Bayu Prihandito, Psychology Expert, Life Coach, Founder, Life Architekture

Set a Legal Budget, Avoid Extra Cash

Avoid the temptation to take extra cash from any of your accounts to keep aside for legal fees and other divorce-related costs, which can get you into legal trouble later. Instead, set a conservative legal budget you and your spouse agree to spend on the proceedings and other separation costs, like rent deposits and more. 

If things get sticky and the relationship becomes too contentious to work through these issues together, consult an attorney about filing a legal separation. This dictates when and how you both will use your money until the divorce agreement can be finalized.

Gillian Dewar, Chief Financial Officer, Crediful

Save Money for Anticipated Expenses

Unfortunately, saving money at every turn is the best way to prepare financially (and emotionally) for a divorce. Everything about divorce is expensive, and the more complex the case, the more expensive it gets. 

Setting aside every anticipated expense, like court, lawyer, etc., is the best way to avoid getting blindsided when you are likely hurting down the road. Set aside some emotional “treat yourself” funds, too. It may not sound like a lot now, but enough extra cash to see a movie or get some ice cream to help cope can make a big difference.

Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers

Navigating the Maze: Tips and Strategies for Contemplating Divorce

  1. Take a “Fiscal X-ray”: Assess your financial health before anything else. Get a grasp on your assets, debts, and monthly expenses. Navigating the legal landscape is easier when you know where you stand financially.
  2. Assemble Your Dream Team: Consider hiring professionals to be on your side—a lawyer, a financial planner, and even a therapist. Each brings expertise that can guide you through this emotional and complicated process.
  3. Try Mediation: Before getting adversarial, see if issues can be settled through a mediator. This approach could save you both time and money.
  4. Plan ‘B’ for Plan Baby: If you have kids, their well-being should be at the forefront of any decision. Consider a co-parenting arrangement and consult specialists to ease their emotional transition.
  5. Guard Your Emotional Well-Being: Seek therapeutic support, and maybe even meditate. Emotional stability is key when you’re making life-altering decisions.
  6. Scour for Documents: Collect all essential documents like marriage certificates, property deeds, and financial records. You’ll need them.
  7. Cost It Out: Legal battles can be expensive. Save money, set a budget, and stick to it. This also means avoiding unnecessary splurges that might make your financial situation worse.
  8. Talk It Out: Open lines of communication might be the last thing you want, but they’re often necessary, especially if children are involved. Create a channel for civil conversation if possible.
  9. Pace Yourself: Don’t rush through decisions. Take time to understand the implications of actions like selling your home, splitting assets, or agreeing to custody terms.
  10. Visualize the Next Chapter: It might be hard, but imagine your life post-divorce. A clear picture can help you make decisions that align with your long-term goals.

Embarking on the journey of divorce is never easy, but with the right tools and mindset, you can navigate this challenging life transition more smoothly.