Four steps to take when getting a divorce

It is an understatement to say that divorce is a very emotional time in a person's life. Unfortunately, aside from causing emotional pain, emotions felt during a divorce can cause many people to not think clearly. However, since any misstep made during a divorce can potentially have long-term repercussions, it is important to approach it with a clear head.

If you have been served with divorce papers, or have contemplated getting a divorce for some time, it is important to act in a calm and rational manner. Since powerful emotions can make it difficult to determine what you should do next, here are some steps that can help make the unpleasant divorce process easier and more efficient, as well as protect your interests:

1. Mind your finances. If your name is on bank accounts, credit cards or other financial accounts with your spouse, now is a good time to remove your name from them. This will help protect you from being unfairly penalized for debts or poor credit caused by your spouse's spending. Since you will soon not be able to rely on your spouse's credit record, it is important to act to improve you own credit score. An effective way to do this is to get a credit card in your own name and ensure that the balance is paid in full each month. Over time, this will prove that you are creditworthy and will cause your credit score to increase.

2. Copy important documents. To ensure that the marital assets and debts are divided equitably, it is important to provide accurate information of your family's finances. To make this process go as smoothly as possible, make copies of all the important financial documents for your attorney. Be sure to include copies of bank statements, mortgages, insurance policies, tax returns, credit card statements and retirement account statements. If your spouse is a business owner, get as much information about the assets, profits and debts of the business as you can.

3. Don't forget your children. Divorce is a time that can be especially hard on your children. As a result, it is important to minimize instability in their lives by keeping their daily routines as unchanged as possible. Additionally, do not disparage or badmouth your spouse in the presence of your children. If you and your spouse cannot see your children together without fighting, make a schedule when each of you can see them separately.

4. Consider a different type of divorce. Divorce can bring out feelings of anger and bitterness. However, if you are able to work along with your spouse, you can minimize the rancor and stress of divorce (as well as save money) by participating in divorce mediation or collaborative divorce, rather than litigating your issues. As a bonus, since you and your spouse will be in control of the outcome of the divorce to a large extent, you will likely be happier with the divorce settlement.

Although it can be a time that brings out the worst in a person, divorce should always be approached with a cool head. Fortunately, you never have to face this tough time in life alone. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and help you move on to the next stage of your life as efficiently as possible.