When you realize divorce is the right path, the knowledge may feel like a huge burden. You can’t wait to unload it by telling your spouse that it’s time to split ways.
But stop. Preparation is one of the most important steps of divorce. If you’re the one instigating a separation, take some time to prepare.
For starters, this will make you less afraid and more in control. But it will also affect your financial future. Here are some things to do to get ready:
1. Prepare with knowledge. Visit an attorney. This doesn’t mean you’ve signed the dotted line and committed to getting a divorce. Information is always a good thing to have. Find out where you stand, what you need to do, and how much it will cost.
2. Plan the timing.
- In North Carolina, you must separate for a year before you divorce. That’s something to realize before you make it official.
- If you are married for at least 10 years, you can collect a Social Security benefit called the “Divorced Spouse Benefit.” When you reach Social Security age, you will receive income based on your earnings record or half his earnings record. So if he is going to get $2,000 per month in Social Security, you would receive $1,000 per month. Unless your own earnings would be $1,200. While this may not affect your decision if you’ve been married two years, it might be best to wait if your 10-year mark is approaching within a few months. However, if you remarry, this will change.
3. Prepare yourself. Buy new clothes. Get your teeth cleaned. Make repairs on the car. Once you have separated, those things come out of your pocket and can’t be considered a marital expense. A marital expense is one made prior to the date of separation.
4. Prepare your bank account. If you don’t already have your own bank account, open one and start putting some money into it. Cash buys you power and independence. You’ll need this money to fund the early stages of your divorce. Somebody has to move out of the house and rent an apartment, which needs furniture and dishes. You or your children might need therapy. Your attorney will need money, and you will no doubt find other surprise expenses related to separation.
Although you may be emotionally ready to have the divorce talk, taking some time to prepare in other ways will make the entire process smoother.