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Five things to do to prepare for divorce

Divorce can be a very emotionally involved time of your life. However, since the outcome of a divorce can potentially have repercussions that can affect your life for a long time to come, it is important to approach it calmly and rationally.

Due to the emotional element involved, this can be a difficult thing to do. However, the tips listed below can serve as a guide to get you started:

1. Copy important documents. Once a divorce is inevitable, it is important for you to make copies of tax returns, bank and investment account information, mortgage statements, and any retirement accounts you and your spouse have. Providing these to your attorney can help speed along the resolution of your divorce, saving time and money in the process.

2. Become familiar with your income and expenses. If your spouse took care of the finances, get copies of the financial records, including pay slips, as well as the recurring bills. Having this information is important to ensure that the assets and debts are divided equitably during the divorce. It is also a good idea to take your name off any jointly held accounts you have with your spouse (e.g. credit cards and bank accounts), so you will no longer be unfairly penalized for debts and credit problems caused by your spouse.

3. Leave the children out of it. The fact you are getting divorced is a stressful enough time for your children. Don't add to this stress by disparaging your spouse in the presence of your kids. Instead, keep your children's' routines as unchanged as possible and do what you can to show them that they remain important to you and your spouse.

4. Inventory your home. In order to ensure that you are treated fairly during the property division phase of your divorce, it is a good idea to make a list of the major items (e.g. furniture, art, etc.) in your home.

5. Keep your head. Although anger and bitterness often go hand-in-hand with divorce, it is vital that you keep these emotions in check. If you are able to cooperate with your spouse and come to a settlement agreement (i.e. through mediation or collaborative divorce), you can spare yourself and your children the agony of a long, expensive and acrimonious divorce process.

Above all else, it is important to remember that although divorce is a stressful time in life, you do not have to face it alone. An experienced family law attorney can look out for your best interests while working to make the process as efficient and painless as possible.

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