Summer is almost here, and while the kids are out of school, this is the time when a lot of parents considering a separation decide to plan a move. But before vacating the marital residence, here are 7 key points to consider:
1. Get legal advice. It is critical to understand your rights and obligations, and have a realistic understanding of how long the legal process will take. In a one hour consult, a divorce attorney should be able to explain child support, alimony, property division, and custody laws in your state.
2. Prepare a budget. You need to understand what it will cost you to be out on your own, so based on your income and/or available savings you can determine what you can afford to pay towards your living expenses, understanding that most families will need to cut back on expenses while now having to support two households.
3. Explore Housing Options. Housing is the most expensive line item for most people, and sometimes those going through a divorce may need to move back in with their parents or take in a roommate for awhile. There is no shame in doing this, and in fact those who have shared a residence with family or friends during a divorce typically benefited from the love and support of those individuals during a very trying time.
4. Secure Your Mail. To protect your credit and privacy, you want to make sure your mail is safe– and not just USPS mail, but email. You should consider immediately changing all your online passwords to email, FaceBook, etc. and notifying the post office to get mail forwarded elsewhere, even if it is a PO Box.
5. Take an Inventory. Go through your home and list all the things of value, maybe even take pictures. Also try to get a snap shot of your family’s finances, including all assets and outstanding liabilities. Gather past tax returns and retirement statements.
6. Establish Separate Accounts. Set up your own bank account and credit cards independent of your spouse. Even if on a temporary basis, you continue to use joint accounts to pay joint bills, eventually you will need to do your banking separately.
7. Disconnect on Social Media– There is no reason to remain friends with your estranged spouse on Facebook or to follow each other on Twitter. Remove all opportunities to snoop on each other, and try to lay low with others on social media, at least until your case is over.
If you are lucky, you will be among the 70% of couples that are able to divorce in a cooperative, if not amicable manner. Nonetheless, it is still a very difficult and emotional process, which is why it is important to seek out emotional support, including the professional advice of a counselor or divorce coach.
As you grieve the loss of your partner and the life you once envisioned together, it is critical that you realize you are not alone. The one year transition period is usually the worse, but then things start to settle down, and the sooner the children see that their parents are doing well in their new lives, the sooner they will feel safe and secure in their family’s new structure.