Divorce may be the biggest life challenge you ever face. What do expert coaches recommend you do to prepare? We consulted with 21 Certified Divorce Coaches to share their #1 tip for how to prepare for divorce. Check out their great advice below!
What’s your #1 tip for how to prepare for divorce?
The #1 tip for how to prepare for divorce is to start today to gather information and become an informed participant in the process. This requires a mindset for success. Achieving this perspective may require you to access feelings and skills that you may previously have avoided or did not have. A divorce coach can help with both. I will stand by your side, each step of the way, as you make all of the difficult choices surrounding the decisions in divorce, and will recommend additional resources as needed. You do not need to do this alone. You can thrive after divorce and I can show you how to empower yourself to do so.
To learn more about Cherie:
Do your emotional work. Understand why you are going through your divorce on an emotional level. It is your “modern day rite of passage” not just a fight, not just a headache, not simply “something to get through.” When you understand why you’re growing through this experience, all the other practical decisions are easier!
To learn more about Laura:
Karen Mode Lightfield
My #1 tip to prepare for a divorce is to quietly meet with an attorney while contemplating a divorce to see how things might play out for them and their unique situation if they do file. I also advise those considering divorce to check reviews, ask others that are divorced for referrals, and interview potential attorneys until they find one they can work well with through each step of the process.
To learn more about Karen:
Our number one tip for preparing for divorce is to take the time to get clear about your values. You must know what is most important to you and define what you stand for. Once you identify what your real priorities are it will give you purpose and help you make decisions during and after the divorce that will move you in a positive direction to a new and better life.
To learn more about Suzan:
You must take control of your divorce process. When meeting with an attorney for the very first time, you should already have an outline of your strategy in mind, as well as a detailed, written plan on paper. Preparation is the key to ensuring that time, effort and money is not wasted, hiring a Certified Divorce Coach can prepare you. Just as many couples getting married claim to save substantially by working with a wedding planner, hiring a Divorce Coach could be the best investment that you make, helping you to narrow down your options, organize your thoughts, and create a plan which will save you time, stress, and legal fees.
To learn more about Kerry:
Learn how to plan and set goals for yourself. Divorce is overwhelming because you are stressed and filled with emotion, which it makes it hard to look beyond the day-to-day drama. But identifying what you want for yourself in the next week, the next month, the next three months, the next six months, even the next year, and listing those goals out puts you back in control of your life. Once you identify what you hope to achieve, write down the steps to get there. When you take these steps, your stress and fear decrease. Your confidence starts to return. And you realize just how strong you are.
To learn more about Martha:
"Owning" your divorce process from the beginning insures satisfaction about its terms many years later. Therefore, planning for your divorce should follow a process of carefully thought out decisions that reflect your long term future goals. Gather a support team of professionals you trust to be your sounding board and cheerleaders for the various facets of the divorce process. Divorce coaches, financial experts, parenting coordinators, therapists and attorneys can educate you on the many paths and solutions that can make weighty decisions along the way clear, accessible and have successful long term outcomes. In the long run, these supportive divorce services can save you money and personal anguish for years to come by helping you prioritize the things that are most important in your future.
To learn more about Mondana:
Angela Ianuale Shanerman
My best recommendation to anyone struggling or feeling stuck in their relationship, would be to work with a Certified Divorce Coach like myself. As your divorce coach, I am your thinking partner and champion for you, because you are the expert of your life. In the coaching process, you are going to gain more clarity and confidence in your decision-making, be able to really focus on your concerns, be heard in a safe nonjudgmental environment, so that you really have the best possible outcome. Every area of your life is at stake and impacted from the decisions you make (family, finances, children, parenting, career, etc.), how could you possibly go at it all alone!
To learn more about Angela:
I strongly believe that knowledge is power, and that information about your financial situation and the divorce process will serve you well as you move through the dissolution of your marriage. But even more importantly, I encourage you to create some time and space to get in touch with who you are, and how you want to move through your divorce. What are your values? How do you want to be seen during and after your divorce? What are your intentions? To be collaborative, compassionate, financially responsible, present with your children? Get a journal and write some of this out. Get clear on what your priorities are. This act of journaling and gaining clarity can help be your touchstone and reminder when faced with any tough decision -- of which there may be many when going through divorce.
To learn more about Kira:
As coaches, we help our clients understand that divorce is not solely a legal dilemma, nor is it just a financial question — it is a whole life challenge. It's vital that you get educated, yes legally and financially, but also practically and emotionally as well. This is not the time to go it alone, the decisions are too big and important — you must look for someone to guide you, to take your hand and to lead you as you navigate this difficult terrain.
To learn more about Kimberly:
Divorce can overwhelm your whole life. One of the most important things to do once you have decided to move forward with divorcing is put together your team. More and more people are seeing the value of a divorce coach as part of their professional team, providing clarity and focus, saving them money and time. Coaches help you choose the right professional team for your situation, your attorney and your CDFA, with a plan and these three professionals, you are on the path to creating a secure future beyond divorce.
To learn more about Sharon:
No one is ever prepared for the length of time a divorce will take. And this is not always due to recalcitrant parties or obstructionist attorneys. Courts are clogged, and the process takes time: petition and answer, discovery, mediation, child evaluations, all take more time than you expect. I tell clients two years. If it takes less, they feel they've accomplished something.
My #2 tip for preparing for divorce: Consider collaborative divorce, even if you feel like you're giving up money or ground to your spouse. The process will take less of a toll on you, your family, and often your finances. And, if you have children, it will foster a sense of cooperation that will serve you well as you co-parent.
To learn more about Carron:
Take a deep breath, slow down and focus on what is most important. Your health and sanity are always of utmost importance in life, yet many people going through divorce neglect this known fact and allow pressure and stress to get to them. Before even entering the process promise yourself that you will walk this path slowly, take your time and listen to your subconscious mind and body. Educate yourself, try and do as much research as possible before making any rash decisions that you will later regret.
To learn more about Pearl:
Get a good solid support team because you are in for a wild emotional roller-coaster ride. Your support team will enable you to go get clear on what you want, make the divorce process as pain free as possible for everyone involved, save you time and money, and guide you as you transition into your newly single life. At the very least your support team should include an attorney, a certified divorce financial analyst and a divorce coach, so that you can begin to create the next chapter in your life - a life where you know peace and happiness.
To learn more about Cindy:
There are many points to consider when preparing for divorce since preparation is key, but I believe the most important tip overall is to create a healthy inner state of mind along with good self-care. Your mindset is the one thing you have the ability to control, which will determine the type of divorce that you have. This calls for you to be emotionally prepared and less reactive, which benefits communication and decision-making. The right state of mind requires you to stay focused on your goal and create a plan for your life that you will need to get in order, which includes access to important documents.
Having the proper mindset also means being informed by doing research so that you aren’t blindsided by unforeseen facts and circumstances. To ensure a healthy emotional state, establish a support network that includes trusted friends and family, therapists, coaches, etc. Remember to honor and support yourself every step of the way with plenty of love, self-confidence, and self-care. Keep your eye on your future dreams and visions, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed…just BREATHE.
To learn more about Robin:
My #1 tip for how to prepare for divorce is to remember you are not alone and don't be afraid to ask for help! Create a team of loyal, non judgmental, supportive friends and family and professionals- lawyer, mediator, coach, therapist, financial advisor, etc.- who make you feel safe, secure, heard and cared for. Then, after you have chosen them, use them to help guide you and support you through the process. Lastly, remember there is a happy chapter 2 awaiting you!
To learn more about Emily:
Having transitioned from being a divorce lawyer for over 25 years to mediation and divorce coaching, I am saddened by how many clients get hijacked by their attorneys who drive the process for their own agendas. And so my number #1 tip is to hire a divorce coach who can discuss all of the alternative options for resolution, and should it be necessary to go the traditional route, to become empowered in how to hire the right attorney for you, to avoid the common emotional pitfalls of bad decision making, and to choices that are aligned with your best self and that give you peace of mind.
To learn more about Hanna:
The best way to prepare for divorce is to start as you mean to go on. This means that you take the time to understand what your values are, and who you are at your core. It is this version of you that you come back to at every twist and turn — and there will be twists and turns — to keep you grounded. This could be one of the most difficult tests of your life, and if you can answer the question, "Who do I want to be right now?" in every tough scenario, you will be able to hold your head high and move through the divorce process with integrity and dignity. Your values will guide you when you do not feel you have the strength to guide yourself.
To learn more about Valerie:
Divorce Journaling is an absolute “must do” for anyone facing a divorce who wants to emerge victoriously emotionally, psychologically and procedurally as it relates to the divorce itself. Divorce Journaling is a method of recording what’s on your mind in a private place meant to be viewed by you only. It can encompass your thoughts, emotions, ideas, wants, needs, fears and anything else that’s of importance to you. In addition to helping you prepare your mindset for what’s to come in your divorce, Divorce Journaling will help you to clarify and manage your thoughts and feelings, reduce your stress, build your confidence, heal from within and free up valuable real estate in your mind, enabling you to remain mentally uncluttered and focused.
To learn more about Lisa:
Don't communicate or make decisions when you are emotional. Instead, give yourself permission to take the time you need to calm down. To do this: 1) Pay attention to your emotions when communicating with your ex/co-parent; 2) Teach yourself to notice these feelings by reminding yourself to pay attention to these feelings and reflect on what is causing them; 3) Specify a timeframe to your ex/co-parent for when you will get back to him/her; 4) Intend, and do your very best to, stay within that timeframe; and 5) Seek the support you need to work through your feelings and make decisions that will ensure your family thrives.
To learn more about Cynthia:
My one piece of advice for divorcing parents is to not automatically think that they have to hire attorneys and litigate in order to become divorced. Who one selects when they choose an attorney is important too. There are collaborative attorneys. Don't feel as though this has to be a contentious process—because it doesn’t!
To learn more about Marlene:
Want more free divorce advice and tips?
Subscribe to the Divorce and Your Money Podcast, trusted by over 50,000 people across the United States.
What are Shawn's top tips for how to prepare for divorce?
1) Be Certain You Want a Divorce
Divorce is a last resort and not the only option in an unhappy marriage. Divorce is often expensive, messy, complicated, and painful. Have you exhausted all your options to save your marriage? Divorce does not necessarily solve many of the reasons you may be unhappy. Consider marriage counseling or living apart for a while as an interim solution. If the pain of staying in the marriage is worse than the fear of a single life, then maybe it is time to go. Just be sure you do not regret your decision to get a divorce.
2) Accept that Divorce is Happening
You are getting a divorce. The vows you made, the life you created, the marriage you had—it is all ending. Divorce is the death of a marriage. You never thought it would happen to you. You are probably experiencing a range of conflicting and confusing emotions, including denial, anger, guilt, sadness, fear, relief, and everything in between. All these feelings are normal under the circumstances, but it is time to step up and prepare for the divorce process.
3) Hope for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst
Divorce can be unpredictable. Initially, you may think you and your spouse will work things out civilly, but the next thing you know years have passed without any clear resolution, and you have a stack of legal bills. In other cases, you may think you are going to have a lot of conflict with your spouse, but it turns out that both of you want to resolve the process quickly and efficiently. Or maybe you are somewhere in between. Every divorce is unique with its own dynamics, and it is hard to foresee the outcome. While you should be optimistic about getting through the process favorably, prepare yourself for a fight. Even in the best of circumstances, divorce takes twice as long and is twice as expensive as you think it will be. Prepare yourself.
4) Plan for the Cost of Divorce
Divorce can be very expensive. You will need funds to pay for an effective team, which will do their best to assist you in managing the process and securing a financial future for yourself. Before you even consider filing for divorce, you may want to think about setting aside some cash on your own. This money can then be used to cover the cost of retaining an attorney, hiring a certified divorce financial analyst, and enlisting the help of a therapist to work through your own emotional issues surrounding the end of your marriage.
5) Setup New Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
You may not be able to get rid of your old joint accounts just yet, but you can certainly begin to set up new accounts for your soon-to-be single life. Make sure that you form these new bank accounts and that you transfer some funds into the account. Most notably, you will want to switch any direct deposits from your employer into your individual account.
You should also consider opening new credit card accounts that are only in your name. This tactic can help you build up your own credit for the time when you may need to purchase a new car, get a new mortgage on your own, or encounter any number of other scenarios that require a good credit score. Your credit score will need to reflect that you have the capability to responsibly borrow and repay your loans without the assistance of your spouse.
6) Gather Your Financial Records
Ideally, you will have five years’ worth of documents, including tax returns, payroll stubs, benefits information, bank statements, investment accounts and property information. Make copies of everything and keep them outside of the house — either in a private safe deposit box or at the home of a trusted friend or family member. Having evidence of all of your financials will help speed up discussions during the divorce, and it will safeguard you in case something goes missing.
7) Inventory Your Assets
While you are gathering your financial records, begin an inventory of all of your assets. Separate property usually includes anything you owned before the marriage, any gifts given solely to you, or inheritances. Anything acquired during the marriage is usually considered marital property.
Take digital, date-stamped photos of your valuables such as jewelry, antiques and collectibles. This may seem extreme now, but it is not uncommon for things to disappear once the process starts.
8) Build a Team of Professionals to Help You
As CEO of your divorce, you need to have a team of specialized professionals to help you navigate the complex process. The three key players are an experienced family law attorney, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), and a therapist. A family law attorney—the most important person on your divorce team—will help you navigate the legal elements of the case and represent your interests. A divorce financial planner (CDFA) does the math, from helping you complete your all-important Statement of Net Worth/Financial Affidavit to determining the long-term impact of different settlement proposals. A therapist will help you work through your emotions to keep you focused on the big picture.
9) Set Realistic Goals for Your Future
What do you want after the divorce is over? Do you want to stay in the house or maybe receive (or pay) a certain amount of spousal support? What about custody of children? You need to determine your most important goals for the divorce process and stay focused on the big picture. If you are mired in the little details and start fighting for that coffee mug you got on vacation years ago, you end up racking up expenses and only hurting yourself in the end.
10) Cut Unnecessary Expenses
It is no secret that divorces are costly. From the moment you sense that your marriage is heading in that direction, you need to redraw your budget and determine how you will accommodate not only the expenses associated with divorce, but also for your new, single life. In order to help build your savings, it is likely that you will have to adjust your lifestyle and cut out anything unnecessary.
11) Monitor Your Credit Report
In order to emerge from the divorce as fiscally unscathed as possible, you need to be fully aware of your current financial situation. To paint the clearest picture, obtain a copy of your credit report, paying close attention to any outstanding debts.
If there is anything that does not add up, you will want to ask your attorney for assistance before you ask your spouse for full disclosure of records. Additionally, it is wise to monitor your credit report throughout the divorce process to avoid any surprises later on.
12) Treat Divorce as a Business Transaction where You are the CEO
As cold as it sounds, the difference between marriage and divorce is a piece of paper. While marriage is about love, divorce is about money. As you go through the divorce process, treat it as a business transaction, as the decisions you make will affect you for the rest of your life. Put your emotions aside, and step up as CEO of your divorce. You must make rational decisions regarding dividing property, child custody, and spousal and child support.
13) Keep Healthy and Fit
The bedtime pint of ice cream starts looking very tasty when you are going through a stressful situation. Or maybe you are thinking about dusting off that bottle of vodka or having an extra cigarette. You are sleeping less. Days between visiting the gym become fewer and fewer, and soon you realize that you are gaining weight and feeling extra sluggish. Do not let that happen to you. Divorce is exhausting mentally and physically; one of the best things you can do to lift your mood and reduce stress is by staying healthy. Physical strength can serve as a good foundation for mental stamina. Go to the gym, take a walk, do some yoga, and clean up your diet. Your body—and your mind—will thank you for it.
14) Lean on Friends and Support Groups
Divorce can be a lonely time, but you should know that you do not have to go through the experience alone. Speak with close friends to help you manage the process, and share what you are feeling. Consider joining divorce support groups, such as DivorceCare and Second Saturday, and many churches and religious institutions can also help. Having others by your side makes it easier to get through the dark times and toughest days in one piece.
15) Take Care of the Children
Divorce can have a traumatic effect on children, with repercussions for the rest of their lives. What do you want them to say about your divorce ten or twenty years from now? Learn how to tell your children about divorce, and try to understand what they are seeing from their eyes. They may act out, have falling grades, or exhibit changes in behavior that you need to monitor closely. If you love your children, do everything you can to protect and reassure them during this volatile process.
16) Act Civil with Your Spouse
If possible, be civil with your spouse. Whether by text, email, or in person, try to avoid a high-emotional confrontation with every communication. You are getting divorced for a reason, of course, but it does not mean you should create extra conflict in every possible situation. Even if your spouse is mean, abusive, or unpleasant, when communicating, treat him or her with respect. Tense and unpleasant communication can not only hurt you if you go to court, but it can also lead to much larger legal bills and often add unnecessary complexity to your divorce.
17) Know You Will Make It
Divorce can feel overwhelming, but you will get through it. Focus on one minute, one hour, or one day at a time. This time in your life will end, even though it may not seem it will at the moment. It is not going be easy, but divorce does not have ruin your life either. Just take one step and then another and another, and those steps will add up, and soon you will be done with the process. You will have the rest of your life ahead of you, and divorce will be in the rearview mirror. You can do it. You will do it. Have faith and believe in yourself.