Deciding to divorce your spouse is a significant decision that should never be made without taking the time to think through all of your options. While divorcing is a very stressful time, it is critical to not move forward in haste. Before moving forward with the divorce paperwork, there are some important considerations and actions you should take ahead of time.
Divorce vs. legal separation
As a couple, you may want to consider doing a legal separation before filing for divorce. Filing for divorce will legally end your marriage, while a legal separation keeps the marriage intact while recognizing through legal agreements that you will be living apart. There are many reasons a couple might consider a legal separation over a divorce.
The main reason to consider legal separation is if you believe there is a chance to reconcile in the future. Legal separation will allow you to live separately with separate bank account etc. while still leaving the opportunity for you to work through your differences.
Health care is also another reason one might choose legal separation over divorce. In a legal separation, a spouse will be able to remain on the spouses’ healthcare because legally, they are still married.
Religion is another reason a couple may choose legal separation. Because many religions have strong beliefs when it comes to divorce, the couple can remain part of the church even though they are separated.
If one of you is in the military, you may want to legally separate until after ten years of marriage. After ten years of marriage, you or your spouse will benefit from the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
Similarly to military service, if you remain married for ten years, you will gain certain social security benefits that you would lose in the event of a divorce.
By separating legal, you will also be able to retain the tax benefits that you are eligible as a legally married couple.
Pull together important legal documents
The divorce process is stressful and will require a lot of paperwork. Before moving forward with the divorce, it is best to gather all of your legal and financial documents together and make copies of everything. If you are prepared with the paperwork in advance, it will help streamline the process and remove some of the stress.
Make a plan for your finances Many people make the mistake of not understanding the cost of a divorce. You will need to hire an attorney, and if your divorce is complicated, you w
ill have a large amount of legal bills to pay. Also, you will need to adjust your spending to adjust to life as a one-income household. Putting a financial plan in place will make sure you are prepared when it comes time to file for divorce.
Put a plan in place to help the children through the process
If you have children and are planning on divorcing, it is critical that you put a plan in place to help them through the process. In addition to coming up with a custody plan that has the best interest of the child at heart, you may want to consider providing them with a counselor. Divorces are a very emotional process for kids, and speaking to a professional about their feelings can help them adjust.