Planning His Divorce

A typical divorce requires a great deal of planning and professional guidance.  It helps to have a general course-of-action in order to better prepare. 

Each divorce will be different depending on numerous factors such as the length of marriage, marital property/debts, type of divorce, reason for divorce, familial circumstances, negotiations and emotional involvement.  

The process can get extremely complicated or be completed with little professional intervention (such as when a couple uses a mutual attorney to prepare and file the necessary paperwork).  In some cases, couples may elect to complete the process with no attorney and in a short amount of time. 

However, the average divorce in the United States lasts for about a year and costs approximately $30,000 between both spouses.  Divorce is a serious event in your life; plan it right for the best possible outcome.

Utilize our "Planning His Divorce" Guide to help you focus on details that are specific to men and divorce.

Phase 1

  1. Decide to legally end a failed marriage
  2. Tell your spouse
  3. Start therapy, stress reduction techniques, stay healthy
  4. Gather all relevant data, documents and financial information: e.g. asset information with tax basis, prenup, tax returns, debts and expenses, income verification, etc. (for a complete list see the 2020 DMK article, Documents to Assemble When Divorcing
  5. If you aren't the one who manages your mutual investments, start researching all available data immediately to prepare for meetings with appropriate advisors as noted in Phase 2
  6. Understand all aspects of tax implications of asset allocation based on each asset or investment and anticipated overall settlement
  7. Make a planner and file folder with all pertinent records (prepare one for your spouse if it will expedite the divorce process)
  8. Research divorce laws in your state and determine if you are in a Community Property State or Equitable Distribution State along with how it will affect your divorce
  9. Determine if you want your own attorney, shared attorney or mediator
  10. Search for a local attorney with experience with cases like yours
  11. Interview attorney's and be sure to understand their fee schedule
  12. Determine the type of divorce best suited for you and your spouse
  13. Establish a way to pay for legal representation
  14. Determine state laws regarding a legal separation waiting period

Phase 2

  1. Establish legal representation
  2. Seek financial, legal, tax and real estate advice, as needed
  3. Consider assets, property and debts and how to divide them
  4. Understand the financial responsibility you have despite the legal divorce settlement that establishes the allocation of any marital debts (including the impact your former spouse's nonpayment of her portion of debt assigned in the settlement may have on your credit report or score)
  5. Try to resolve most details with your spouse regarding the settlement (unless otherwise legally advised)
  6. When determining a fair settlement, consider current income and future income potential for each spouse for the establishment of support
  7. You may want to hire an expert to substantiate your spouses potential to earn a higher income
  8. Understand tax law changes regarding the need to claim or opportunity to deduct support made by or to you (speak with a tax advisor if you have questions)
  9. Establish temporary and long term child custody arrangements
  10. Prepare or request copies of all documents relevant to your children's care, health records, birth certificates, social security cards, tax returns, etc. so that both parents have access to relevant information
  11. Establish filing status for the recent tax year
  12. Speak with a counselor or therapist if depressed (men are at a significantly higher risk for serious emotional downturn and suicide following divorce than women)
  13. Separate e-mail accounts and phone accounts
  14. Stay away from alcohol since men are at high risk for alcohol abuse following divorce
  15. Change passwords to everything that is yours and not related to marital property
  16. Put the household utility bills in the spouses name who retains possession
  17. Change the locks to the home and inform your spouse (unless unsafe to do so)

Phase 3

  1. Request any missing documents from your spouse
  2. Establish financial means based on worst case scenarios
  3. Determine living arrangements
  4. Gather most important items prior to separation
  5. Plan for moving and/or home sale
  6. When separating:  take all personal property, personal items (pictures, clothing, personal effects) and financials (documents/taxes/records) the moving spouse plans to request in the divorce settlement (make a list of all items taken for both spouse's records)
  7. Move one spouse to a separate residence or area of the home until the divorce is final (be sure to follow the legal guidelines of separation if required prior to divorce)
  8. Discontinue any physical relationship with a spouse or dating companion (discuss with attorney)
  9. Do not date or start a physical relationship with someone new
  10. Continue to practice healthy eating and fitness habits (men are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and depression than divorced women)
  11. Establish a pre- and post- separation budget
  12. Consider you and your family's overall well being when establishing your settlement if things start to stall or get complicated when negotiating

Phase 4

  1. Discuss potential pitfalls and expect problems so you are not surprised
  2. Continue in therapy, counseling or support group or get started
  3. Hire a private investigator and/or forensic accountant, if needed
  4. Turn over relevant documents to your attorney and to your spouses attorney
  5. Follow up with your attorney to make sure he has everything he needs
  6. Understand the stages of divorce to avoid emotional turbulence in your legal divorce
  7. Grieve and process your emotions to avoid depression and poor health (common to men following divorce)
  8. Attend depositions, answer requests and turn over document promptly and honestly
  9. Do not hide income or assets
  10. Attend court and sign paperwork to establish a settlement
  11. Expect post divorce blues and add positive activities like spending time with family, exercise, socializing or a hobby to chase the blues away
  12. Avoid old habits, bad behavior or unhealthy lifestyle
  13. Review and process the Stages of Divorce since to help process emotions and grief following a divorce (something men are less likely to do, resulting in dangerous health conditions, possibility for addictions and poor emotional well being)
  14. Don’t call your ex

Plan a Party

Relieve some tension following a long difficult process and plan a gathering, party or event.  It can provide some closure to the challenges you and your spouse recently faced and will give you, your family and friends some time to spend in a positive atmosphere. This can be planned with or without your former spouse to celebrate your new friendship, though most will find it therapeutic to plan their event on their own to establish their new beginning.

The party can be a relaxed event at home, a barbeque with the kids, a few family and friends or major bash at a dance hall with caterers and band. Make sure it fits within your budget and time constraints. But give yourself an opportunity to release the past and begin your journey towards a happier you and better future.


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