How to get ready for divorce (+ checklist)

how to get ready for divorce


When you reach the point of wanting to go beyond separation, you’ll need to first know how to get ready for divorce. It makes sense to do some preliminary steps to ensure you’re ready.

Whether your divorce proceedings are simple, or you have multiple aspects to deal with that will make it more complex, knowing how to prepare for divorce will ensure you come out the other side of the legal separation fairly.

It’s OK to want to know how to secretly prepare for divorce, as long as your intent isn’t malicious. In some cases, I’ve had clients who have struggled to break free from painful or often abusive marriages. In these cases, it’s vital the following steps are done privately before making the decision to start the divorce process.

For others, knowing how to get ready for a divorce will eliminate the confusion and insecurity you might feel about going through divorce, take away overwhelm and help with organization. Knowledge is power and the password to your freedom.

Here are the 8 steps on how to get ready for divorce once you’ve seen the signs you’re ready for separation.

What income are you producing?

The financial side of divorce can often create the most amount of stress. So having all the financial documents you need in place before you start, will allow you to see where you’re at and where you need to be.

Firstly, have your last three years’ of tax returns. This will give you an idea of what you have coming in each year.

Also do an audit of things like your W2s, K1s, and 1099s. Can you clearly see where your money is coming from to help you make important financial decisions?

Have you audited your assets

The other aspect of your financial search is your assets. Many of these may be joint assets, so ensure you have them listed out and the paperwork accessible.

One way to find your assets is to look at all the accounts listed on your federal tax return that are producing income.

Some obvious ones include the marital property or any personal property.

You also want to  locate any accounts with money in them and your name on it. You’ll need to make sure you have 6 months’ worth of statements for these accounts.

If you’re unsure what to look for, try

  • checking accounts,
  • savings accounts,
  • money markets,
  • investment accounts
  • retirement accounts (401k, IRA (traditional and ROTH), pension, life insurance policies, CD, mutual fund, annuity, etc.)

Often we can set these sorts of accounts up and forget about them. While this task might feel tedious, it will be worth the effort on the other side of divorce.

Look at your pre-divorce debts

Just as important as knowing your income and assets, is the debts you have prior to divorce.

To look for debts that are in your name, regardless of whether they’re in joint accounts, review the most recent three months of bank statements, including checking, savings and credit card statements.

Your next task is to itemize all of your spending, so you have an accurate depiction of where all of your money is going.

Remember, once you’re separated or divorced, you’ll have to take on the previous joint living expenses yourself, like utility bills. So knowing your blend of existing debts versus future debts to sit alongside your income will give you a realistic picture of post divorce life.

This step may give you other ideas on what to do to prepare for a divorce so you’re comfortable for the years to come. Knowing the consequences of divorce is important.

Want this information in a handy downloadable checklist? Download the Divorce 101 Checklist.

Physical effects and adjustments to life after divorce

It’s challenging not to get wrapped up in the emotional aspects of divorce. But it’s important to stop and think about what life will look like after divorce when it comes to the physical aspects of your life.

What do you need on a day-to-day basis to actually physically get around? Some questions to think about include:

  • Will you need physical therapy?
  • Do you have prescriptions that need to be filled?
  • Are there doctors you need transportation to and from?
  • What are your genetic tendencies when in duress?
  • Do you have the support you need here?
  • How is your physical health?
  • Are you sleeping?
  • Are you exercising?

The other thing to note is that the stress and conflict sometimes associated with separation can bring on negative health effects post divorce.

Supporting yourself emotional

Knowing how to get ready for divorce emotionally is often lowest on our list of priorities.

Sure, the emotional toll a divorce can take is probably something you’ve already thought about. But have you considered exactly what you’re going to do to support yourself? Have you set up systems and structures to support you through your lowest days?

Having measures in place and support networks set up before your proceed with your divorce will mean a greater level of confidence, clarity and calm as you move through.

Perhaps your current therapist is a couple’s counselor, and you feel you’ll need new assistance once the divorce proceedings begin.

Do you have access to personal growth and development retreats (local, international or online) to become reacquainted with yourself.

When your emotions are running high, the brain power to do this research midway through divorce will make it harder for you to determine what you best need in the moment.

Reconnecting with your spiritual side

Often we lose connection with our higher power during divorce, regardless of the name we call that power (God, Universe, Self, Science).

It’s important to reconnect in solitude with this power, and yourself exclusively. Doing this reignites the intuition you may have been suppressing for some time leading up to this decision of divorce.

When it comes to making important decisions about the legal advice your divorce attorney gives you, knowing how to step back and reconnect with yourself will ensure you’re always making decisions from the right place.

Making decisions purely based on emotions in that moment may not produce the best outcomes for you long term.

Setting life goals after divorce

Much of researching how to get ready for divorce may end up focusing on surviving the divorce process. But on the low days it will be hard to keep moving forward if you don’t know what you’re moving towards.

When you have a clear vision of what you want your life to look like beyond divorce, it will motivate you to keep going when it all feels too hard.

Some questions to ask yourself, include:

  • What do you want from your life in the next month? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 5 years?
  • Do you have what you need to get there?
  • Do you need a parenting plan so you can continue to enjoy life with your children
  • What financial goals do you want to reach?

Go forth and paint a vivid picture of your new life.

Setting up a support network

As you’ve researched how to get ready for divorce, have you thought about your network?

There are different networks you need to look at before divorce begins. Having these in place prior to proceeding will allow for a more seamless process.

If you’ve been working through how to secretly plan for a divorce, your friend network may be hard to tap into before filing for divorce. You may choose to share your decision and plans with just one friend instead.

Outside your friends, who else do you have to help you on this journey? We provide resources for all the people you need, so if you don’t have the following, reach out!

Here are some people you may want to start connecting with:

  • home leasing agent,
  • mortgage professional,
  • personal banker,
  • financial planner,
  • insurance agent (for your property, casualty, life, disability, and possibly health insurance),
  • title agent,
  • realtor,
  • therapist (for yourself and children),
  • meditation specialist,
  • clergy,
  • small group support,
  • self-care specialist,
  • nutritionist,
  • massage therapist,
  • handy-persons,
  • car sales-persons,
  • divorce coach

And, as mentioned, your already existing support system. Like raising a family takes a village, so does dissolving a partnership called marriage. If you need access to resources in your location, contact us for help. We will email it to you for free.

You know how to get ready for divorce. Now what?

To help you better organize yourself as you move through each of these tasks, download Your Complete How To Prepare For Divorce Checklist. This way you can tick off the items as you work through it. You can store this PDF checklist on your computer or print out a copy.

free divorce preparation checklist


Once you move through the list, you may still feel some trepidation or a sense of overwhelm. If you are struggling to navigate your transition before or even during divorce, you’re not alone. It’s easy to become paralyzed by  the endless questions that a legal separation can bring up.

preparing for divorce privately

To help you, please access the Privately Preparing For Divorce workshop. This workshop will help answer all those questions you grapple with late at night.