The first thing people think of when preparing for divorce is to hire a lawyer as quickly as possible. Yet, that isn't the smart thing to do. There are levels of preparation WELL before a lawyer or mediator gets involved that will help you save time, money and sanity!
You don't know what you don't know. So, why are you trying to push forward in a divorce without getting help? Don't try to recreate the wheel when there are plenty of experts who can help you with best practices focused on your emotional, legal and financial well-being. Your mindset is incredibly important before you dive into this challenging change in your life. You need to feel confident that you are making decisions that actually serve you AND your future self.
Yes, divorce is the LEGAL dissolution of a marriage ... but the PROCESS is about the financial equalization of marital assets and debt. You are negotiating for your future. So, understand is the big picture on your joint marital assets and debt. What does that landscape look like? Too many people are misinformed when it comes to divorce. They mistakenly believe that their joint assets and debt will be divided 50/50. They mistakenly believe that whatever they earn is their own money. They mistakenly believe that having separate bank accounts means that the money in their individual account is theirs alone. It isn't. Marital assets and debt are defined as ALL income and debt that has been accrued by either spouse from the date of the marriage to the date a divorce petition has been filed. So, you need to know what that TOTAL AMOUNT is ... because it will get equalized in this negotiation ... meaning that whoever has more in their individual accounts gives more to the one that doesn't, so you both walk out of this marriage with equal assets and debt. Most of your divorce negotiation will be about custody of your children and then the equalization of your assets and debt. If you don't know what you want in this divorce, you can't ask for it. And if you don't have a sense of your total assets and debt, then you can't know what is reasonable to negotiate for ... or if that equalized amount will fund your future. So, there are experts .... Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, Therapists, Divorce Coaches ... who can all help you prepare for divorce before you even think about hiring an attorney or a mediator.
I have a client who took my advice very seriously. When she hired her lawyer, she provided him with all of financial disclosure information, tax documents and accompanying statements, as well as a list of everything she wanted in the divorce. He was flabbergasted! He had never encountered a client that was so well-prepared. And because of it, my client will be saving a ton of money on legal fees since so much of the work had already been done. If you do the hard work of preparation first, you WILL save yourself valuable time, money and sanity!