11 Things That Should Be On Your Divorce Preparation Checklist

Updated May 3, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Deciding whether to get a divorce may be a difficult decision to make. This is a big decision, and you likely want to make sure that it's the right one. If you've tried to save the marriage and know in your gut that it's time to move on, then it can be beneficial to start preparing for your life after getting a divorce. Divorce can be stressful and overwhelming. Making a checklist to prepare yourself for divorce may help keep you organized. Below, we’ll outline eleven things that should be on your divorce preparation checklist so that you can start getting ready and know what to expect during the divorce process.

1. Find a new place to live

One of the first things to put on your divorce moving-out checklist is finding a new place to live. If you're going to be divorced, you might not be able to keep living in your current home. Depending on how the divorce process goes, one person will get the house, and the other will need to get a new place, or you may both decide to move. At the very least, it's going to be smart to figure out a temporary living arrangement for yourself once you start the divorce proceedings.

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Divorce isn’t easy, but professional support can help

You're also going to need to consider several other factors depending on certain things. For example, if you have children, how can you find a new place to live that won't disrupt your children's lives too much? You'll also need to consider whether you can take your pets with you. 

2. Get a P.O. box

If you need to get divorce paperwork without your spouse knowing, you'll need a place for the mail to arrive. You can get a P.O. Box that will allow you to have a safe spot to receive such documents. It can prevent things from happening too soon when you're trying to prepare for what is ahead.

3. Consider your children

Your children, assuming you have kids, can be such an important part of this process. You want to help get your kids through this situation without hurting them. Many children experience fear and confusion when their parents are getting divorced. Some children even blame themselves for their parents getting divorced, which can cause them to struggle in school.

Think about how you can make the process more bearable for your children. Consider issues such as child custody and whether you're going to be seeking child support from your spouse. Thinking through these things ahead of time can help you understand what to expect and the best course of action to take when it comes to your children.

4. Gather important documents

Start to gather and make copies of important documents. Examples of documents to gather include:

  • Marriage documents such as your marriage license and any other agreements (i.e. prenup)

  • Tax returns (both federal and state) for the past five years

  • Documents relating to real estate assets, like deeds and mortgages

  • Financial documents, such as your credit report and credit card statements

  • Estate planning documents, such as your living will

5. Save money if possible

If you have your own source of income, then it is a good idea to save money to have a smooth transition into your new life. If you have joint bank accounts with your spouse, consider opening your own checking and savings account and start to transfer your paychecks there. Equally, if you share credit cards with your spouse, consider opening up your own credit card. Alternatively, you can conveniently save money without a bank account if you prefer by utilizing a personal safe, lockbox, or another method that you are comfortable with.

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6. Hire a lawyer

Having a lawyer who specializes in family law is another important part of the process that you need to pay attention to. Divorces can be very complicated, and many things need to be considered. If you own a home with your spouse, then you'll need to figure out who gets to keep it. You'll be dividing assets, and you need lawyers who can put you in an advantageous position. You may also need to discuss child support. 

There are people out there who go through divorces without involving lawyers. If you're splitting from your spouse amicably, then it might not be so bad. However, if you're worried enough that you need to make a divorce checklist, then there is a good chance that you're going to need a lawyer. People can get petty when money is involved, and a lot is at stake. Hiring a lawyer is a smart way to yourself, and it can also take a lot of the stress off of you.

7. Change passwords to important accounts

It's also going to be smart to go ahead and change the passwords to your important personal accounts. You don't want your spouse to be able to use your email or your social media accounts. Depending on how upset they are about you wanting a divorce, they might decide to do something spiteful toward you. Also, it's simply not smart to allow your spouse to have to your accounts when you're planning on divorcing them.

Changing your passwords won't take long at all. It's also going to be beneficial to turn on two-step verification so that you'll have to verify things before the account is able to be connected on any device. Remember to do this before moving forward.

8. Decide when to talk to your spouse

Of course, you're eventually going to have to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. This is a tricky subject, and you might not have an easy time coming up with the words. Even so, you must tell your spouse that you want out of the marriage. While there is no “right” time to talk about divorce, try to do this when you're close to being ready to move forward with everything else or have a good idea of your next steps so that you won't be left scrambling trying to figure out what to do.

Many people place this toward the end of a divorce checklist, but it makes sense somewhere near the middle. There is a lot that needs to be done once you've started the divorce process. If you have an abusive spouse, you can even leave the house with the authorities' help.

9. Update dependent and beneficiary information

If you have named your spouse as a beneficiary on your retirement accounts or life insurance policy, consider updating this information.

If you rely on your spouse for health insurance, start to research insurance policies for when you will no longer be able to be a dependent on their health insurance policy. 

10. Focus on self-care

The process of divorce can be difficult and take a toll on mental and physical health. For this reason, you need to spend some time focusing on self-care. This can involve eating healthily, getting enough sleep, engaging in hobbies that you enjoy, taking a long shower or bath, exercising in whatever ways you most enjoy, and so on. You're likely going to feel emotionally drained during the divorce process in many ways, but you can feel a bit better by ensuring that you're taking care of yourself. Getting over a divorce will take time, but you can feel better by looking after your health.

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Divorce isn’t easy, but professional support can help

11. Change your last name

Getting a name change after divorce is also something that you may want to consider. Depending on how you feel about things, you might no longer want your ex-spouse's last name, assuming you took their last name in the first place. You'll need to go through the proper channels to revert your name to your maiden name. It isn't too complicated to do, but it might make you feel a lot better once it is finally done. It's like you've finally gone back to being yourself if you've been stuck in a bad marriage for quite some time.

Prepare for divorce in online therapy

Divorce is a process that is experienced differently by everyone. The divorce checklist outlined above can help you to better anticipate what life without your partner may be like, and can help you identify and take actionable steps toward independence. 

Online therapy is always there for you, too. If you're having a hard time getting through a divorce, then you can count on online therapists to help you feel better. They can work with you to help you get through the emotions that you're experiencing. You'll start to make progress, and you'll always be able to count on these professionals when you need to talk.

Online couples counseling is available as well. This is good for when you want to try one more time to save the marriage. Depending on the severity of your relationship problems, this might be a good way to avoid having to get divorced. If you want to save your marriage, then online couples counseling is a great resource. Sessions can be held either individually or with you and your spouse together via phone call, video chat, or reliable in-app messaging anywhere you have an internet connection. 

Research indicates that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for a variety of conditions and concerns, including aiding relationships. A 2022 study on relationship counseling held via video conferencing found that therapeutic alliance (the degree of trust and comfort between client and therapist) did not differ between online and in-person therapy. Additionally, the study “indicated improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time” that were comparable to those of couples who received in-person therapy.

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