Prepping for the Transition (of Divorce)
If you are considering separation and divorce, there are a number of things you can do in the early days to prepare for the transition to come.
More separations are initiated in January than any other time of year. Many times people may have made the decision to separate, but they will wait until after the holidays before moving forward. If you are considering separation and divorce, there are a number of things you can do in the early days to prepare for the transition to come.
First and foremost know, where you stand financially. It’s human nature to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, but this is not the time to bury your head in the sand about your financial picture. Make a list of all of your assets and debts. Get a sense of what your situation looks like. Many people want to have an idea of how much equity they may have in the home and will contact a realtor to get an opinion of value. If you have never been involved in the family finances, now is the time to start. Open your mail and start educating yourself. Often times if communication breaks down at the beginning of a separation, trust is also broken. It is rare that both spouses sit down at the computer to pay the bills. If you weren’t involved in the day-to-day banking, then it’s really time to get to know your budget. For some people, preparing for the transition can mean making a commitment to pay down some debt so that they can each have a fresh start. Whatever your situation, knowing the general state of your finances is an important step.
Another big decision that often comes in the early days is living arrangements. Not all separations involve a drastic, sudden move. Assuming there are no safety concerns in your situation, you might consider exploring different options. Some people want to remain together in the home, for them it’s a strategic financial decision. They can pay down more debt, save more money by not trying to support two households in those early days. For others, a nesting arrangement works best. This temporary arrangement is where the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns being in the house with the children. This type of arrangement often requires that parents have a good friend or family member to stay with when they are not in the home. This is usually a short-term arrangement but can be very effective, particularly with very young children. And finally for some, an immediate move is the best option.
No matter which living arrangement works for you, boundaries around communication are important. Many people decide to only communicate on a more business level (ie: talking about the children or house issues). A good divorce mediator can really help you in working out an interim plan.
If a move has happened, the immediate cash flow needs of the family is often what is most pressing. Making sure payments are made on time is key to preserving your credit. You may not have worked out any support issues, yet you still need to be practical about what the monthly expenses are. Many divorce mediation processes help people talk about these interim financial issues.
No matter the reason for the separation, those early days are often the most stressful. Emotions often run highest at that time and communication is often broken down. Knowing what needs to be addressed in the short term and seeking professional help is important. The key is to create stability for everyone so that while you are sorting out the long-term details, you and your family are not in a state of anxiety.
Preparing for the transition can be a very proactive and empowering step in the process.