My Spouse Just Asked Me for a Divorce - What Should I Do?

If your spouse just asked for a divorce, you are likely experiencing a lot of different emotions. Take a step back and breathe. It might not feel like it right now, but you are going to be okay.

The first thing you should do is start taking really good care of yourself. This may seem like a strange recommendation, but when difficult things happen in our lives, it's easy to put self-care on the back burner. This is when we need it the most! 

Related Post: 30 Journal Prompts to Help You Through Your Divorce

Emotionally Preparing for a Divorce

Give yourself time to process your feelings. If you want to try to work on your relationship before moving forward with terminating the marriage, you need to be as clear-headed as possible. If your spouse is adamant that they want to end the marriage and are not interested in trying to improve things, you are going to need a clear head to make all of the big decisions that will be coming your way.

I always encourage people to try everything they can to heal their relationship before deciding to move forward with a divorce. Assuming divorce is going to be the next step, though, it's time to start preparing for some significant changes in your life.

Recognize that there will be a period of grieving, complete with all of the stages of grief: you’ll likely feel denial, anger, a period of bargaining, depression, but eventually, you’ll come to that state of accepting the reality of the situation.  While it might be easy to get bogged down by what could have been, it’s essential to focus on creating a future life that you find fulfilling for yourself by committing to move forward.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Where do I see myself in the future?
  • What will it take to get there?
  • Who will I surround myself with?
  • How will I take care of myself in the meantime?

When you have that long-term outlook in place, you’ll be able to make decisions now to help you achieve it.

Financially Preparing for a Divorce

Going from one household to two can wreak havoc on your finances, especially if you aren’t the primary breadwinner. The sooner you take control of your finances, the better.

Start by determining your expenses. My suggestion is to make a list of everything you’ll need. You might consider:

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Phone
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Clothing
  • Personal Items
  • Food
  • Transportation

…and many others. In addition to the basics, take the time to write down any debt payments, you’ll need to make each month. These could include car payments, credit cards, personal loans, or anything else that requires a chunk of your income.

Next, you’ll want to identify your income. Do you have enough to cover those necessary expenses? If not, how will you make up for the difference? It might involve getting another job, cutting back on expenses, or requesting a certain amount of alimony or child support. Keep in mind, the sooner you know the answer, the sooner you can begin planning.

From a financial perspective, you cannot be too prepared for the financial changes to come. I highly recommend meeting with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to review your financial situation and make sure you don't make expensive mistakes in your settlement agreement. Working with a CDFA can save you quite a bit in legal fees if you do decide to work with an attorney in the future. She can help you to inventory your assets and liabilities and make recommendations for a division that is in your best interest.

Related post: What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?

Creating the Best Post-Divorce Life That You Can

It’s unlikely that a divorce was ever in your plans, but now that it is, what’s the best possible scenario for your post-divorce life?

Consider taking some time to journal your thoughts. What will your housing look like? Where will you live? Will you take up that hobby that you didn’t have time for before? Is there a group of friends or an organization you want to be part of? Will you finally take the leap and start your own business?

Your new life is full of possibilities, so allow yourself to dream big.

Once you’ve outlined your dream, it’s time to put a plan in place. Create smaller goals and steps you need to take to achieve them. For example, you might want to purchase a home, but to do so, you’ll need that 20% down payment. Put a plan in place so that a little of each paycheck goes into your savings account for that purpose. It might be tempting to skip this step, but without a plan in place, failure is likely.  

Preparing Your Children for a Divorce

Your kids are likely noticing that changes are occurring in your family. The key is not to share too much too soon. Remind them how important they are to you and reassure them that you will always be there for them, regardless of what happens between you and your spouse.

Do your best to get along with your ex in front of the kids. It might take some time to get on the same page, but ultimately, your mutual goal should be a successful co-parenting relationship. Your kids will spend time with both parents, so the more communication you have, the better.

No matter what, keep your kids out of any divorce negotiations.

Know Your Legal Options

As soon as you know a divorce is imminent, it’s essential to surround yourself with a professional team that can support you through the process. Many people immediately think that they need an attorney, but mediation can be a healthier divorce alternative and a more affordable option.

Related post: The Best Kept Secret of Mediation

With a commitment to see the process through on both sides of the table, you’ll be able to discuss and finalize your:

  • Parenting plan
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of assets
  • Division of debt

…and any other issues specifically related to the divorce. 

Are you considering mediation for your divorce? Contact Great Lakes Divorce Financial Solutions today to schedule your free consultation.

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