Maybe you’re just day dreaming, or perhaps you’ve slapped down a fat retainer with the meanest divorce lawyer in town. But any woman thinking of separating from her husband needs to plan ahead before she drops the D-bomb on the D-bag. Here are 10 steps to take:
- Make a plan to boost your income. Whether you have always worked full-time or you’ve been stay-at-home mom, the reality is that after divorce, families must muster the new financial realities and time to support two households. This means that your quality of life will decrease, and you need to make more money. How will you do that? Go back to school? Get a promotion? Start a new business, or take on freelance work on the side?
- Make a plan for where you will live. This may mean paying your current mortgage on your own, downsizing, or relocating to a new city. Your address is a critical element of your life: it affects where your kids go to school, proximity to family support and what your monthly finances will look like.
- Find out your credit score for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, and make a plan to boost it if it’s low. Just because your husband had a big salary and high credit score doesn’t automatically mean you do, too. This three-digit figure is the ticket to a new future, as it affects your ability to get an apartment, mortgage, car loan, and a job.
- Figure out where your emotional support will come from. Divorce can be one of the most stressful, horrible things a family can encounter. Who will be the wind beneath your wings? Do you have a few girlfriends you can lean on? A family member or twelve? Accept that one person isn’t enough (they’ll get sick of you). Start asking around for a good therapist.
- Park your emotions and figure out how many assets and how much money you are truly entitled to. By starting negotiations with a cool head, understanding what you are legally entitled to and bringing a bottom-line dollar figure in mind, you are more likely to prevail in any deal-making.
- Park your emotions and figure out what you truly believe is the best custody situation for your kids. Spite, anger and jealousy have no place in visitation negotiations.
- Take a deep breath and accept that you will lose some friend- and family-support. You will also gain friends. Life is changing. You are starting anew in all parts of your life.
- Accept that you will likely be poorer. Fair or not, women and their children are statistically poorer after divorce than when the woman is married. This is usually not true for men.
- Know that you can be richer. I often run into women whose careers and businesses flourished once they got out of stressful relationships with the wrong person. Happy people tend to be professionally successful.
- Decide that you will be happier. Whether the divorce is your decision or his, accept that the relationship was not working. Life does go on. Happiness comes again— if you welcome it it.
Emma Johnson blogs at WealthySingleMommy.com. She is a single mom to two preschoolers and a fulltime freelance business journalist in New York City.