Going through a divorce can be an emotional and challenging time, but taking steps to prepare yourself can help make the process smoother. While not all divorces follow the exact same process, many of the preparation steps are similar.

Consider these three tips if you’re thinking about filing for divorce.

1. Gather documents

One of the first steps in preparing for a divorce is to gather all necessary documents related to your marriage, such as bank statements, tax returns, real estate deeds and investment account statements. Having a complete and accurate picture of your marital assets, debts and income is critical to ensuring that you receive a fair settlement. You should also make copies of all financial documents and store them in a secure location outside of your home.

2. Decide on your support system

It is important to have a support system in place to help you navigate the process. Your “village” may include family, friends and/or a therapist. Consider reaching out to a support group for people going through a divorce or to a professional divorce coach who can help you develop coping strategies.

3. Plan for your single life

Going through a divorce often results in a significant change in lifestyle and finances. Take time to plan for your single life, including your living arrangements, career goals and financial future. Consider developing a budget to help you manage your expenses. Look for opportunities to build new social connections and pursue hobbies and interests that bring you joy.

Of course, acting on these tips might not be possible if you’re in an abusive marriage and are in danger. If that’s the case, your primary objective is to get somewhere safe so you can start to put your plan for divorce in motion.

Ultimately, doing what’s best for your unique circumstances is the most important thing you can do. It may behoove you to have a seasoned legal professional on your side who can guide you through the legal process, especially if you have reason to believe that your divorce will be complicated.

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