Preparing for Divorce: The First Steps

Feb 28, 2008

Divorce can be difficult, but you don’t need to be unprepared.  Being prepared can help you handle the emotions, understand the legal process, and get through the divorce as stress-free as possible. 

Below are some steps to take towards a “nice” divorce: 

  1. Find a Support Network. Divorce can be a very challenging and emotional time. Be good to yourself and find a support network, be it family, friends, or a professional therapist. Having an outlet for your emotions and frustrations can help get you through the process, keep your children out of the middle, and allow you to work more effectively with your lawyer. If you have a lawyer, you are paying for the attorney’s legal expertise. Spending hours with your lawyer rehashing the history of your marriage or speculating on your spouse’s new hobby is not an effective use of your lawyer’s time or your money.

  2. Educate Yourself. Now is the time for education. Before you enter the court system, you should understand it. Read articles, book, and websites on divorce and the divorce process. Attend classes or seminars on divorce. (FYI – In the Twin Cities, Chrysalis offers Divorce Information Sessions, a very informative way to learn about divorce and the process, law, financials, child custody and support in Minnesota. These 2 1/2 hour classes cost only $20.) You also need to educate yourself on the particulars of your situation. Gather all information on your property and assets; run a credit report, make copies of account statements, find values on your cars and house, etc. Although it is not necessary to have all of this information at the start, the more you can gather yourself the more time and money you can save later on.

  3. Talk to Your Spouse. If you can, talk to your spouse. The more you can agree on, the cheaper your divorce will be. Can you and your spouse negotiate the terms of your divorce on your own, or would you benefit from having a third party, such as a mediator, assist you?

  4. Choose Your Path. Are you hiring a lawyer or representing yourself? If you are hiring a lawyer, now is the time to start looking for one. How to Choose a Lawyer. If you are representing yourself, know what it means to be pro se and check out your local law library or Court’s self help desk.