Divorce is a big decision, not one to make lightly. There is a definite reason why it is on the list of top stressors in a human life among moving, having a child, marriage, and buying a house. So before calling it quits, there are a few things to consider before divorce. It is important that you fully understand all your options and the ramifications before starting the process.

  1. Separation

Divorce is not always the best choice. For some people, there may still be hope between the spouses of an eventual reconciliation. Perhaps some time apart will allow you and/or your spouse time to grow and think things through. Separation can be a lifesaver for some marriages. This is, of course, not always the case. But it is something to consider before diving headfirst into divorce. Whether the separation allows you time to apart before a reconciliation or is simply a steppingstone on the path to divorce, it can be beneficial to discuss this option.

In addition, some couples opt to separate over divorce for religious purposes. Separation also allows one spouse to maintain coverage under the other’s health insurance plan until they acquire other coverage.

  1. Gather Documentation

If divorce is definitely something that you wish to pursue, remember that it will be a significant commitment of time, money, and energy. In order to facilitate the process, it is best to begin gathering the necessary documents ahead of time. Be sure to make copies of relevant tax statements, proof of income, retirement fund documentation, and any other pertinent files that you can think of. Be sure to keep track of any assets and liabilities that you may have acquired. It is important to make note of any relevant dates to determine if assets are marital or non-marital, i.e. will need to be split between you and your spouse or not.

  1. Financial Planning

One thing that many couples fail to plan for is their finances post-divorce. Attorney fees and court fees add up over time. The longer the process takes, the more it can cost. If there is any possibility that your divorce will be contentious, the longer and more costly your divorce will be. This means it is vital that you begin planning for these costs in advance. However, divorce cost is not only court and attorney fees. Consider your financial health before divorce proceedings.

If you stay in the marital house, you will need to determine if you are also taking on sole responsibility for the mortgage. Getting a new place? You need to cover rent and other living expenses. If you are a stay-at-home wife or mother, you may not be able to afford living on your own, and you may face difficulty in finding employment. In this case, you will need to ask for temporary spousal support to get through the divorce process.

  1. Children

If you have minor children, the divorce process can be especially precarious. In addition to determining child custody and support, you need to be mindful of the emotional toll that divorce can have on children. Depending on their age and emotional acumen, they may not be able to express themselves except through anger, confusion, lashing out, and fear. It is important that you and your spouse discuss how to communicate with your children about the divorce and work together for the good of the children going forward. It is not easy, and it is definitely emotional, but co-parenting can be done well if you both remain committed to the process for the sake of your children.

You will also need to have a discussion with your spouse about custody arrangements and child support. This can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce, so be prepared if you cannot come to an agreement on your own. You may also need to consider counseling for your children to help them cope with their emotions throughout the process.