22 Things To Do Before Filing For Divorce

Laura E. Shapiro -

Divorce rates are currently increasing, and there are many factors that have contributed to this.

Some of the increase is because people marry at a young age.

Some issues arise around money, and for some, there are issues of poor mental health and even domestic violence.

Whatever the reason, the divorce process is known for being long-winded and complicated which is why speaking to a divorce lawyer is important to learn the things to do before filing for divorce.

Things You Need To Do Before Filing For A Divorce

Some people believe that marriage is forever.

The legal process of splitting up can be challenging.

Dividing up your possessions and making sure your children are not caught up in the process needs to be done with care and consideration.

Here are 22 things that you should do before sending your divorce papers.

Make sure you are prepared for the process, and that you are allowing yourself the space to heal.

Organize Your Finances

First, you should organize your financial documents.

Gathering those items such as tax returns, investment statements, retirement accounts and the like can give you a better idea of where you and your partner stand financially.

In terms of the legalities of a divorce, an attorney will advise you as to which assets must be valued, and assets and debts are all considered.

Taking the time to figure out where you stand beforehand is a great way to get a head start and be educated.

Make sure you consider less apparent things such as pensions, artwork, and inheritance.

It is recommended that you get a credit report.

These are highly comprehensive reports showing any outstanding debts and can assist in determining marital debts. 

Are You Considering a Divorce?

Are You Considering a Divorce?

Get a comprehensive list of documents you need to start gathering.

Discuss The Divorce Process

Make a time to have an open conversation with your partner about the divorce, that isn’t during a busy period like your child’s birthday or a family event.

Because of this, it is important to plan this discussion ahead of time and schedule a day when neither of you has any other commitments.

Try to talk about anything that feels important in a neutral setting if possible.

This could be away from home such as in a coffee shop or at the park.

It is also recommended that you avoid raising your voice, and keep the conversation concise.

Try to avoid saying more than you need to because this can lead to a conflict or argument.

Taking the moral high ground in this situation allows you to remain calm.

This can also allow both parties to think and reflect on the discussion before starting the divorce process.

Hire An Attorney

Do not underestimate the role of a good divorce attorney during a divorce that understands family law matters.

A good divorce lawyer can make the entire legal separation process much smoother and can present your case before a judge if necessary.

When you are preparing for divorce, it is highly recommended that you search for a reliable attorney who is willing to fight for you in a court of law if necessary.

There is nothing wrong with scheduling interviews with potential attorneys, and turning them down if they don’t feel like the right fit for your case.

An experienced lawyer, will be able to handle sensitive issues and make every effort to make the process as fast and seamless as possible.

It is completely normal to interview three or more potential attorneys before hiring one.

Make sure you get a feel for how they work, and how suitable they would be for your situation.

Evaluate Joint Finance Accounts

In some cases, there is a risk that your partner can make withdrawals from savings accounts and joint financial accounts as soon as the discussion about divorce begins.

Because of this, it is important to speak to an attorney first for financial support and financial resources to address this concern.

It is important to have access to emergency funds in case the process takes longer than expected.

This can help cover urgent or unexpected expenses.

Keep Your Family And Friends Close

Support is essential during a divorce, or any type of conflict in general.

Keeping your family and friends close to you allows you to surround yourself with love and acceptance during this tough experience.

A support network can also be beneficial for your children because it can provide a distraction from the confusing times that their parents are going through.

Being there for your friends and family allows you to fill the newfound space in your life with love and acceptance.

Make sure you have plenty of people to support you during the divorce and give them a brief overview of the process you are preparing for if necessary.

Gather Personal Information

There are four main types of personal information that you can focus on putting together.

These are individual information including details about usernames and passwords to all shared accounts.

It is also important to set up your own email address and accounts during the divorce.

Information addressing legal names, birthdates, and employment information are important.

Other forms of personal information that should be gathered before a divorce include details about your marriage, divorce information such as temporary restraining orders, prenuptial agreements, and your children’s information.

This includes anybody under the age of nineteen that you are responsible for.

Be sure to have information about adoption records if applicable, details about any child custody agreements, and medical records if you or your child have medical conditions.

Gather Proof Of Income

Another area that you will need to find information on is your income.

You will need to provide documentation of your and your spouse’s income.

Find proof of both your and your partner’s most recent paychecks and tax returns.

Information about self-employment is important, and access to general ledgers can assist in business valuations.

Gathering a year’s worth of bank statements can also assist.

Organize Your Legal Documents

Similarly, any legal documents should be organized before filing for a divorce.

This includes any insurance policies that you are paying for with your spouse, end-of-life plans such as powers of attorney and advanced health care directives, tax returns, and any other documents related to businesses that you or your partner own.

After the dissolution, you will need to separate insurance policies for vehicles, etc. and you will need to update your last will and testament.

Of course, each situation is vastly different.

Because of this, it is highly recommended that you ask your attorney for advice when filing for divorce.

This is especially important when it comes to supporting your children if your spouse is unpredictable or considered to be an unsafe parent.

Start Establishing Credit In Your Own Name

Credit is a common thing that many people do not take into consideration during a divorce.

Although the initial legal process is unlikely to have a direct impact on your credit score, outstanding payments can easily get caught up in the divorce.

This can happen during a dispute, or when both parties are trying to decide who is responsible for a certain bill.

In turn, this can negatively affect your credit score.

This can be avoided by setting up accounts in your name to have your credit card before filing for a divorce.

You can also invest in identity theft protection as people filing for divorce are more vulnerable to scams.

Likewise, protecting your identity can establish some boundaries with your spouse and keep your credit safe.

Make Plans For The Children While Divorce Is Ongoing

One of the main reasons people put off getting a divorce is to protect their children.

However, this can lead to negativity between the parents, and even lead to the children witnessing bitterness.

Getting a divorce can be the best way to protect your children in some cases.

Make sure that your child is not getting caught up in the divorce proceedings by keeping them occupied, in their best interests, and protected from legal issues.

It is recommended that you avoid disrupting their routine as much as possible.

Give your children plenty of time and affection so that they don’t think any of this is their fault.

However, you should make appropriate plans for your children while the divorce is happening.

This could involve moving them into another home with you, letting them stay with your spouse, or moving in with your parents if they live nearby and are willing.

Schedule plenty of one-on-one parenting time with each of your children, and make sure that they always have something special to look forward to.

This could be a play date with a friend, visiting the local petting zoo, or a barbecue at their grandparents’ house.

Remember to remain civil as much as possible to protect your children.

Determine Your Plans For Custody

Issues relating to the children in a divorce usually have to do with decision-making and parenting time.

These legalities can become complicated very quickly, so it is worth preparing for this with your soon-to-be ex before initiating the divorce process.

Consider how you interact with your spouse, and whether you want to file for joint custody or not.

Your attorney can provide more information and guidance on these processes along with child support information.

Smaller things such as where the children will spend holidays and birthdays should also be thought about beforehand.

Identify Your Personal Property

Make sure that you make a list of things that are important for you to retain.

Deciding who gets what can easily become heated, but being fair about your belongings allows you to keep the ball rolling for the divorce.

The best way to start this process is to make a list of everything that you own independently and what you own with your spouse.

Finding the relevant documentation for everything can also be challenging, which is why it’s better to start this process of property division as soon as possible.

Some of the main categories of personal property and marital property include houses and land, which will need the deed, information for title, documents relating to property tax, rental details, and a copy of the mortgage or line of credit loan from the time you separate with your spouse.

Other separate property items include vehicles, machinery, household items, and personal items such as antiques, collections, tools, family photos, and more.

Change Your Passwords

You will also need to change all of your passwords to something that your spouse is unlikely to guess.

This is a basic method of protecting your accounts and your finances from any kind of fraud in the future and also protecting your attorney-client communications.

Being able to access your accounts is essential, so you would greatly benefit from changing all of your passwords.

Many spouses are likely to know your frequent passwords, so it can be useful to start fresh and avoid giving them access to your accounts.

A family name or beloved pet can be a common password, and it is easy for your spouse to guess these.

Because of this, it is worth using a different combination of numbers and letters if possible.

Make Necessary Purchases

During a divorce case, there is a temporary restraining order that prohibits the transfer or encumbrance of assets except in the ordinary course of business or for the necessities of life.

The purpose is to prevent either partner from draining bank accounts, selling, transferring, or encumbering assets.

Itemize Your Belongings

Deciding who gets what in a divorce is one of the most challenging parts of the process.

You can prepare for this ahead of time by starting a list with your possessions that have significance to you.

Taking videos of personal property or home contents is often a good idea.

It could be useful to include necessary documentation with these lists.

Deeds, insurance documents, and receipts can make the divorce process much smoother when you have already accessed these beforehand.

Prepare A Marital Balance Sheet

The court requires that the parties submit a marital balance sheet.

All debts and assets are usually included.

Colorado is called an “equitable division” state, therefore, even though the equal division of assets is the norm, it is not always the case.

A marital balance sheet is an organized way of looking at every item that is owned within your marriage.

It can provide structure to a conversation with your spouse.

Collect Marital Documents

If you have a pre or post-nuptial agreement, those records should be provided to your lawyer.

Colorado is a no-fault state, so therefore, you do not have to allege anyone did anything wrong to obtain a dissolution of your marriage.

Think About Changing Your Will

If you haven’t thought about it yet, you will need to change your will after divorce, and you will need to consider health insurance.

Focus On Your Children

As well as surrounding yourself with friends and family for love and support, your children will need the same.

Make sure you prioritize spending time with them and show that you are still there for them.

Depending on your child’s age, you could explain what is happening to them.

However, they are likely to get upset as young children tend to see themselves as 50% one parent and 50% the other.

As a result, talking badly about your spouse in front of your children can cause them to have negative feelings about themselves, as you are telling them that half of them are bad.

It is essential for a child’s development that you remain civil with your spouse.

Keep them distracted with plenty of quality time together and tell them what is going on if they ask.

A divorce can be dealt with matter-of-factly to eliminate any negative emotions that your child could experience.

Take Steps To Separate Your Lives

Although every situation is different in terms of how integrated your life is with your spouse, you can take steps towards separating your lives over time.

For some, this can help soften the blow and allow them to begin moving forward independently.

The idea of living on your own can seem like a huge leap that is impossible, but the best way to move forward is to slowly separate your lives.

No rule book says you need to do everything all at once. It can sometimes be easier to take steps to separate your lives.

Make The Decision To Stay Or Move Out

Another big decision that needs to be made is how to separate.

This is often the most difficult aspect of a divorce.

If you own a home and have children, you and your spouse either agree one moves out, or you will have to ask the Court to assist in making that decision. 

Set A Post Divorce Budget

This is key to preparing for your independent life. Once you know where you will be living, you can try to figure out a budget.

Take Care Of Yourself

Finally, there is a great deal of closure that comes with filing for a divorce.

Opening up to your spouse about the issues that you have faced and the kind of challenges that they have failed to support you through can be highly stressful.

This is especially true if you don’t know how they are going to respond.

The conversation can be emotionally draining and the process itself isn’t easy.

Because of this, you should remember to take care of yourself.

Make time to give yourself a little love, this could be journaling in the morning before starting your day, or scheduling a weekly visit to your close friends’ homes.

Think about the type of things that fill you with energy and positivity, and try to do more of these.

Allowing yourself to improve and adapt over time is one of the best ways you can process a divorce.

Everyone processes change differently, which is why it’s essential that you are being patient with yourself and working towards inner peace.

Living alone doesn’t have to be intimidating, and you will begin to see it as a fresh start over time.


Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful, tiring, and a drain on your energy.

Because of this, you must be taking care of yourself consistently.

Spending more time with your children without conditions or complaints about your spouse allows them to continue growing and developing as usual.

Knowing that you are there for them at all times is one of the best ways of supporting your children during a divorce.

Everybody has slightly different reasons for getting a divorce.

Every county has different rules and timeframes for hearing cases, therefore the expected timeframe for a divorce is unpredictable.

Make sure you are hiring a good Denver divorce lawyer that can happily answer all of your questions and explain the things to do before filing for divorce.

It is also worth preparing for the process by looking through your filing system for the right documentation and start creating lists of everything that needs to be valued or included in the marriage balance sheet.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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