If there’s one thing most people know about divorce, it’s that the process can be complicated. After all, it’s the process of dividing everything you’ve acquired in years of sharing lives and property. That’s never a simple task; it only gets harder the longer you’ve been married and the more assets you have.
However, there are many ways to simplify your divorce. With the right approach, you can avoid some of the most common complications and keep your split as low-stress as possible. The following six steps may help you keep the process simple so you can move on with your life as quickly as possible.
1. Consider a Postnuptial Agreement
Many couples suspect they are approaching a divorce long before either partner files the dissolution papers. If you’re concerned that a split may be in your future, a postnuptial agreement allows you to prepare for that possibility in advance.
A postnup is a contract you and your spouse may use to address issues like asset division and spousal support before you choose to end your marriage. It works similarly to a prenuptial agreement, but it may be signed any time after a couple has gotten married.
If you and your partner are working on your marriage but want to reduce potential future conflict, a postnuptial contract may be an excellent option. You can address some of the most conflict-heavy components of a divorce before emotions run high without the need to commit to ending your relationship. As a result, if you do choose to split up, the process will be significantly simpler.
2. Work With Your Spouse
Filing for divorce is often portrayed as adversarial. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you and your spouse remain on good terms, you can work together to make your divorce less stressful.
Working together can take many forms. You may pursue a collaborative divorce, in which you and your partner negotiate fair terms for your split with an attorney. You may also consider mediation, where a neutral third-party mediator will guide your negotiation meetings to help you achieve productive resolutions. You may simply agree to abide by your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement without dispute to reduce the time spent in negotiations or courtrooms.
Fundamentally, working with your spouse is about choosing to collaborate instead of fight. If you and your spouse both select this approach, you are significantly less likely to waste time and energy on unnecessary battles.
3. Find a Separate Outlet for Your Emotions
It’s natural for a divorce to cause strong emotions. After deciding to end your marriage, you may be angry, confused, or grieving. No matter what you’re feeling, finding a healthy outlet for those emotions separate from your soon-to-be ex-spouse is essential.
During a divorce, the best thing you can do for yourself is to treat your spouse like a business contact. Remain professional in your negotiations and avoid letting your emotions take the wheel. Emotional people are more likely to make poor financial and legal decisions to “punish” their partners, which can complicate the divorce process and lead to worse outcomes.
Instead, find another way to process everything you’re feeling. Take up a new high-intensity or high-focus hobby like running or painting. Talk to your friends and family about what you’re feeling. Consider working with a counselor. These alternatives let you express yourself without taking it out on your spouse and making your split more difficult.
4. Be Organized
On the practical side of things, organization is essential to a smooth divorce. You will need a lot of information to properly divide your assets and determine any support orders necessary in your split. Examples of paperwork and info you should collect include:
- A comprehensive list of all your current assets, debts, and financial accounts
- Statements from all investment and bank accounts
- Paperwork for your home and any real estate you may own, including titles and mortgage paperwork
- Statements from retirement accounts and pensions
- Copies of your pay stubs
- Copies of at least two years’ worth of tax returns
- Pictures or videos of your home and other properties demonstrating their condition and the personal items within them
The best time to gather this documentation is before or immediately after filing the petition for dissolution. Keep copies of these documents together in one secure location so you can reference them quickly to avoid wasting time trying to find them later.
5. Know Your Priorities
There are so many details involved in the average divorce that it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. Identify your biggest priorities at the beginning of your divorce and use them to keep perspective as the process continues.
For example, suppose your priorities are keeping the family home and fairly dividing your retirement assets. In that case, spending days arguing over who will keep the patio furniture is probably not worthwhile. These smaller concerns may seem important at the moment, but fighting them does little to help you achieve your goals. If you’re flexible on the little details, you’ll save time and resources to pursue your ultimate priorities.
6. Get Professional Help
The best thing you can do to keep a divorce simple is to work with experienced legal representation. Knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through the process, avoiding common pitfalls and pursuing your goals on your behalf. If you have significant property to divide, you should consult with high-asset divorce attorneys like the team at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP.
Our qualified lawyers have decades of experience helping couples in Corte Madera, Napa, Walnut Creek, San Diego, and the Bay Area resolve high-asset divorces. Our tax and business law background allows us to effectively represent clients in complex, high-value divorce cases. We will work closely with you to ensure your divorce is efficient, discreet, and accomplishes your goals. Schedule your consultation today to discover how we can assist you in your marital dissolution.