While divorce is the right option for some marriages, it's definitely not the best solution for every marriage in trouble.

All married couples experience challenges.  Some more than others- In cases where a marriage has faced issues that either spouse feels threatens the relationship, it's common to consider divorce.  It may be right for many couples based on the type and duration of problems the marriage has experienced. 

However, it's important to know that divorce is a complicated journey.   For a marriage to survive, it requires the couple to work together to provide dedication, commitment and love.  To achieve the primary benefits of a divorce, it requires each spouse to commit to the dissolution and emotional healing needed for his/her individual resurgence.

Both choices require action:

  • One will require each spouse's participation in improving the marriage along with possible marriage counseling or couple's therapy. 
  • The other requires immediate action to initiate the legal and emotional resolution to a failed marriage.

If you're leaning towards divorce, but still can't decide, we put together the DMK Divorce Plan below for you to consider.  We hope it gives you a clear picture of the long journey if you chose to divorce.  If it's the right choice, the journey will be worth it.  It will be difficult, but some things in life are worth going through to achieve the happiness and potential for love you deserve. 

If divorce isn't what you want

In some cases, marriage counseling, patience and love are a simpler route to your happiness.  Only you and your spouse can determine this.  If you decide to give your marriage one last chance, consider the DMK Counselor Directory to help locate a local family counselor.  

Know what you're getting into

Below, you will find our general DMK Divorce Plan for Her.  We also have a DMK Divorce Plan for Him in our 2020 DMK Divorce Workshop.  It covers the important phases of divorce.  While every divorce will be different, it's helpful to have an idea before you decide, of the typical process of divorce. 

Your individual circumstances, length of marriage, debts and assets, state laws and family situation will affect your divorce a great deal.  It can get extremely complicated or be completed with little professional intervention.  

Some couples share an attorney to prepare and file the necessary paperwork for as little as $1,000.  However, the average divorce in the United States lasts for about one year and costs approximately $30,000 between both spouses.

DMK Divorce Plan

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 (asset information with tax basis, prenup, tax returns, debts and expenses, income verification, etc.)
  5. Put financial and pertinent information together (see the 2020 DMK article, Documents to Assemble When Divorcing)
  6. If you aren't the one who manages the investments, start researching all available data immediately to prepare for meetings with appropriate advisors as noted in Phase 2
  7. Understand all aspects of tax implications of asset allocation based on each asset or investment and anticipated overall settlement
  8. Make a planner and file folder with all pertinent details (do so for your spouse if you think it will help expedite the divorce)
  9. Research divorce laws in your state and determine if you are in an Equitable Distribution State or Community Property State along with how it will affect your divorce 
  10. Determine if you want your own attorney, shared attorney or mediator
  11. Search for a local attorney with experience with cases like yours
  12. Interview attorney's and be sure to understand their fee schedule
  13. Determine the type of divorce best suited for you and your spouse
  14. Establish a way to pay for legal representation
  15. 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 his portion of debt assigned in the settlement may have on your credit report or score, if applicable)
  5. Try to resolve most details with your spouse regarding the settlement (unless otherwise legally advised)
  6. Understand all current and possible future values of assets and any tax implications that would affect the value of your share of the marital assets
  7. When determining a fair settlement, consider current income/debts and future income potential verses debts for each spouse for the establishment of support
  8. If you were the primary caregiver for the children and household while your spouse built his career, you will want that considered when determining support or asset allocation in the settlement agreement (in a recent Worth study 48% of women said they had financial surprises following divorce)
  9. Expect your spouse may have experts determine your income potential when establishing support thus reducing support payments
  10. If you currently earn less than your spouse and are unable to financially provide without your spouse's support, consider requesting tiered support (more at the beginning and tapering off over the coming years) to provide you reasonable opportunities to build your career or educate yourself in order to eventually earn more in the coming years (the Worth study also found that 44% of women wished to reinvent themselves following divorce)
  11. If choosing tiered support, make sure you have enough time and current support to increase your future income
  12. If seeking a temporary job or part-time work, know that it will likely be considered when determining support (make sure you will be able to continue with the extra job following the established settlement if it was based on the additional household income)
  13. 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)
  14. Establish temporary and long-term child custody arrangements
  15. Prepare or request all documents relevant to your children's care, education, health records, birth certificates, social security cards and tax returns, etc. so that both parents have access to relevant information
  16. Establish filing status for the recent tax year
  17. Consider a counselor, group therapy or therapist if positive activities aren't enough to keep your mood positive (positive activities may include family time, yoga, Pilates, hobbies, education or volunteering)
  18. Separate e-mail accounts and phone accounts
  19. Get to know the Stages of Divorce and evaluate which stage you are currently experiencing (know that your progress may slow down, or you may regress from time-to-time depending on your personal situation, longevity of the divorce or setbacks)
  20. Change passwords to everything
  21. Put the household utility bills in the spouses name who retains possession
  22. 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, the moving spouse should take all personal property, personal items (pictures, clothing, personal effects) and financials (documents/taxes/records) he/she plans to request in the divorce settlement and record all items he/she takes 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 your spouse or dating companion (discuss with your attorney)
  9. Do not date or start a physical relationship with someone new or someone with whom you have had a physical relationship with prior to separation (discuss with your attorney regarding your case and circumstances)
  10. Do not move in with someone with whom you have had or are having a physical relationship and know that it may affect your settlement if you do (even a platonic relationship may affect custody, settlements and support).
  11. Continue to practice healthy eating and fitness habits
  12. Continue to pursue higher education, career advancement and self-sufficiency (women usually suffer greater financial hardship following divorce compared to men and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, divorced women are more likely to live in poverty or get public assistance than men)
  13. Establish a pre- and post- separation budget
  14. 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
  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 
  12. Avoid old habits, bad behavior or unhealthy lifestyle
  13. Review and process the Stages of Divorce
  14. Don’t call your ex

Plan a party

Relieve some tension following the 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 your former spouse to celebrate your new friendship or without him/her to celebrate your independence. 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 a major bash at a dance hall with caterers and band.  Make sure it fits within your budget and time constraints.  But, it's still one of the best ways to release the past and begin your journey towards a happier you and better future.

Read our DMK articles, Have a Divorce Party or Divorce Party Planner



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