Divorce – Where to Start?

Divorce to do list

So, you are considering or facing divorce – where to start?

Divorce challenges the safety, predictability and meaning of pretty much every part of our daily lives.  For most, it is overwhelming to think about how a potential divorce or separation will impact you and your family, much less where to start.  By thinking through how divorce may impact the five key areas of your life, it can give you a better perspective on how to move forward and to prepare for potential changes.

If the decision to divorce is already made, you should take time to acknowledge and prepare for the changes that will occur in multiple areas, during a time when you are experiencing intense emotions.  This can save you time and money in the long run.  Without this kind of planning, unresolved conflicts often end up in court or a lawyers office – both of which can increase costs and acrimony.  Difficult to make decisions, even more difficult to make good decisions when involved in an unfamiliar legal process. Start by considering the five types of divorce below, where to start, and how you are going to manage each.


Whether divorce is coming as a shock, a relief, or anywhere in between, every individual experiences an emotional process, as the relationship comes to an end.  The emotional process is necessary to transition, letting go of the way things were, and moving toward the way things are becoming.  Remember that you and your partner are usually at different parts of the emotional process, and being sensitive to that can go a long way in managing conflict during the divorce process.


Money is a hot button issue in many marriages, and it is no different in divorce when each is walking away with less than they had together.  There are generally two parts – dividing up the assets (financial accounts, real property, etc) that the parties own, and then ongoing financial support, like child support or alimony.  Before making any decisions about either, you need to gather information about your financial circumstances, including income, expenses and assets.  Aside from just gathering data, prepare yourself for difficult decisions about your financial needs and wants.


As your relationship with your partner changes, it will impact your relationships with those around you as well – your friends, children’s school, extended family, neighbors, colleagues, religious community, etc. It may mean certain relationships end, while others are now able to flourish.  Consider which relationships are important to you, what you want those relationships to look like going forward, and how you are going to navigate difficult conversations that arise with the important people in your life.


Just as your marriage had a legal beginning with a marriage certificate, it must have a legal end with a judgment of divorce.  But the path getting to that judgment of divorce can vary greatly.  Before rushing to file for divorce with the court, take time to learn about and understand the different options available to you to resolve your divorce.  Consulting with an attorney can help you evaluate your legal options, and how to move forward.


If you have children together, your relationship does not end with divorce.  You must now create a new co-parenting relationship, centered around effective communication that minimizes the children’s exposure to conflict and animosity between the parents.  What that looks like is different for each family and their unique needs.  Parents also must come up with a parenting plan, which generally outlines a schedule and guidelines for the family.  If parents are unable to come to an agreement on the major issues regarding the kids, it will be decided by the court after a trial.  

These areas overlap, and managing each can become overwhelming without support and guidance.  Divorce coaching helps you to breach each step down into manageable pieces, discover different options, overcome obstacles and plan for your next chapter as you start the divorce process.  

Allison McFadden is a Divorce and Co-Parenting Coach.  She has helped clients navigate divorce for over a decade, first as a family law attorney, and now as a coach.  She decided to focus exclusively on coaching because individuals should be in control of their own destiny, not the default, and decisions about children should be made by their parents.  She can help you navigate your divorce with purpose and dignity – learn how she can help you create a roadmap forward here.

This information is provided for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.



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