Divorce Season: Key Tasks for Success

Divorce season is upon us. January is the most common time for divorces throughout the year, for various reasons. Many couples are trying to get through the holidays for their families, or are taking time during the holiday season to reflect on their relationship happiness and make a decision in the new year. More logistically, other couples might be discussing divorce for awhile and choose to file at this time of year due to the financial clarity of filing at the beginning of the year from a tax and income perspective.

Even if divorce has been on your mind for some time, don’t underestimate the changes that will occur during and after your divorce. Recognize how difficult this time may be for you, your family, your spouse, and your finances. Not to mention, the decision to get a divorce is not always black and white. 

If you still aren’t convinced that divorce is the right next step, explore Discernment Counseling with your spouse to get a more definitive conclusion about whether divorce is what you want. This method of therapy helps indecisive couples reach a stay or go decision about their marriage.

Once you know that divorce is imminent, you’ll have to navigate two key tasks that are important in the early phases of your divorce: sorting through the finances and choosing a divorce method. In this post, we help you understand more about making decisions around these early tasks in your divorce.

Prepare Financially

Even before you officially file for divorce, it’s critical to get your finances in order. In fact, one of the first mandatory documents required by the court is a Sworn Financial Statement, which is a summary of your income, assets, debts, and expenses. As you complete this document, you’ll also want to verify account access and make sure your name is clearly on any assets that you own or co-own with your spouse. 

Is a Divorce in Your Future? Get Prepared with These Essential Tips.

In addition to documenting various aspects of your finances, start thinking about your budget and your current or necessary spending. Instead of making any significant purchases right now, start putting aside money for future needs such as divorce expenses, possible moving expenses, new furniture, and even a deposit on a new place to live. If possible, pay off as much debt as you can before filing to reduce the complexity of your settlement. Lastly, begin to interview financial advisors that can help you plan for your financial future alongside your divorce (no matter which divorce method you choose).

Choose a Divorce Method

If you aren’t familiar with divorce, you may assume it will look like it does in the movies with courtrooms and high-powered attorneys presenting their side of your case to a judge. That isn’t the way more divorces unfold in the real world. In fact, there are four common divorce paradigms with pros and cons to each approach. Choosing the right method for your situation will impact your finances, timeline, relationship with your former spouse, settlement, and other aspects of your life. The divorce method you choose largely depends on how much you can spend on your divorce, your desired timeline, and how amicable the situation with your ex is. The four common types of divorces are:


1. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Divorce

This is a good choice if you have minimal conflict with your ex. It’s also favorable if you have fewer or less complex assets, similar income, and/or no children. Of course, one of the top benefits is saving money, yet sometimes this type of divorce can get drawn out if there is confusion about what to file, or if one party is dragging their feet. Without experts guiding the process, there may be more misunderstandings or confusion, especially about long-term needs or agreements. It’s critical to work closely with a financial advisor who specializes in divorce if you choose a DIY divorce so that you make informed decisions about your finances. 

A divorce coach can also be helpful in a DIY divorce, providing guidance, non-legal expertise, and support during this time. Divorce coaches are especially helpful if you expect a significant life change following your divorce, such as a new job or relocation, or endured an abusive relationship with your ex.

2. Mediator-Led Divorce

A neutral third party can often help guide you if you and your spouse are mostly on the same page about their divorce, and mediator-led divorces can cost far less than hiring attorneys. This method of divorce often reduces conflict and speeds resolution on key disagreements around parenting time or how assets will be split. Both parties often feel heard and don’t experience the emotional toll of going to court or battling toward desired outcomes through their attorneys. However, the quality of the assigned mediator can have an effect on the outcomes and occasionally, limited time means that important topics are overlooked.

3. Litigation & Hiring an Attorney

Some couples might try the first two methods before eventually hiring attorneys and preparing for court. This can sometimes be the only option if there is hostility, ongoing disagreement, safety concerns, abuse, addictions, or a reluctance to compromise. This method can be the most expensive and can have the longest timelines since the court is involved. You may feel less in control of the outcome of your divorce negotiations. On the plus side, having someone advocate for you can set you up for long-term success and stability. 

Recognize that hiring the right attorney by screening them in an interview is essential to getting the outcomes you want. Don’t overlook how important it is to choose an attorney with the experience and resolution style you need to settle your case, as well as one who is aligned with your values. Ensure that the attorney you choose is open to working with other experts in your divorce, whether you consult them for parenting time advice or financial guidance.

4. Collaborative 

In a collaborative divorce, a team of professionals help you settle out of court. The team can includes coaches, financial professionals, mental health experts, realtors, appraisers, mortgage professionals, child behavior specialists, and more. This is a great choice if you and your spouse’s goal is to retain the best post-divorce relationship, and are solution-oriented. In this type of divorce, you commit to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The professional team helps you reach resolution and creates a supportive environment of healing and recovery for your whole family. Learn more and find professionals on the Colorado Collaborative Divorce Professionals website

Consider what method might work best for you based on the relationship with your ex, the resources available to you, and the timelines you hope to achieve with your divorce. Begin interviewing the experts you need early in the process, so you are ready to meet timelines and stay informed about your options.

If you need help organizing your finances and understanding your financial disclosure obligations in your divorce, contact us for professional financial support. If you would like to receive a list of the top divorce methods, along with their pros and cons, contact us for a copy of this important resource.