1. Where will you live?It’s an obvious question that many people fail to consider. It is very rare for couples to successfully live in the same home while a divorce is pending. Two households are more expensive than one, so you need to figure out how to pay the extra expenses ahead of time. One’s standard of living usually drops somewhat during a divorce but it’s always best to have a plan.
  2. What bills will each of you pay?Divorcing couples often sever their financial ties soon after filing for divorce – separate bank accounts and separate bills. While you may be able to cancel some joint financial obligations, you will likely have mortgage payments, insurance, car payments, etc. that both of you are obligated to pay. Leaving it to for a judge will cost you additional time and expense so it’s always best to find solutions on your own.
  3. If you own a home, will you keep it or sell it?Traditionally, if one spouse is going to keep the house they must refinance it to get the other’s name off the mortgage and pay half the equity to the other spouse. The other option is to simply sell the home and split the proceeds. One result of the housing crisis has been that many people are upside down on their homes, which changes things considerably. You must look at your individual circumstances to decide what is best.
  4. How are you going to divide personal property?Generally, divorcing couples are able to divide their personal belongings but occasionally emotional attachments interfere with rational decision-making. First, identify those items that are most important to you. Prioritizing is important because odds are that your spouse’s high priority items aren’t the same as yours. This allows you to offer lower-priority items in exchange for higher ones. It often works out better for both parties.
  5. Do you have access to short-term funds?Divorce is expensive. You double the number of households you support without increasing your income and will likely have attorney’s fees as well. This is especially difficult if you are unemployed or your spouse was the primary source of your family’s income. You need to have access to a source of available funds to get you through this transitional time. Eventually, you may be able to get child support and/or spousal maintenance, but you cannot count on that to provide all of your needs. Use your savings, seek help from family members if possible. If absolutely necessary, use credit cards for cash advances or remove funds from retirement accounts to get through this difficult time.
  6. What is your plan for long-term income?If you work full time, you will probably continue working as usual, although if you will be paying child support and/or spousal support, you may need to look for ways to increase your income through a promotion, a new job, or a new career. If you are unemployed, are working part time, or have a low-paying job, you may need to explore your options. If you expect to receive spousal support, consider going back to school – it will be much more difficult once child support or spousal maintenance expires.