No one plans on divorce.

No one stands up in front of their friends and family with someone they love and promises to love and cherish each other for “a while”. No one pledges “in sickness and in health… or at least until I don’t feel like it anymore”.

When people get married, they are thinking about forever. They believe with all their heart that they will be with this person for the rest of their lives.

But sometimes things fall apart. People grow out of love. Things just don’t work.

And it is hard when that happens. Divorce is not an easy process, no matter what your circumstances are. There will be tough conversations and painful moments and seemingly endless paperwork.

But there are ways to make it easier on yourself. Preparing for divorce financially can help alleviate some of the overwhelm as you navigate this new chapter.

Get your documents in order

When you and your spouse separate, you will need to provide a lot of financial information to your lawyers. Save yourself the headache (and the lawyers fees!) by ensuring you have access to:

· Employment information/salary

· Tax returns

· Bank statements *both joint and personal accounts

· Investment and retirement account statements including beneficiary information

· Wills & Powers of Attorney

Establish your own accounts and credit

If you currently pay bills with a joint account, keep that (although you may consider adding a signature clause for large withdrawals). But make sure you also open a bank account in your name only, ideally at a different financial institution. If you are comfortable, consider switching your direct deposits to that new account as soon as possible.

If you don’t have a credit card in your name, apply for one. Credit established as part of a joint account won’t help you to move forward independently.

Prepare a list of assets and liabilities

Begin making lists of both assets and liabilities that were acquired during the marriage, and those that were yours before the marriage. This will include large assets like a house or income property, and liabilities such as loans and credit cards.

Evaluate your will and beneficiaries

If you currently have a will that names your current spouse, reach out to your lawyer to discuss updating that. Without a change, it is possible for your soon-to-be-ex to inherit your assets. (And if you do not currently have a will – now is the time to get one!)

Check the beneficiaries on any investments or insurance policies and change those if necessary – again, always ensure it aligns with the separation plan made with your lawyer.

Factor legal fees into your budget

Even the most amicable of divorces still requires a lawyer. Adjust your budget to account for these upcoming fees and consider saving more as a reserve fund if things end up dragging on.

Avoid big purchases

As you both get used to your new, independent budgets: avoid large purchases. Track your expenses clearly – this will potentially factor into any discussion about support payments.

Tweak your long-term financial plan

Divorcing will influence your future retirement plans and most likely, many other parts of your financial plan. Re-evaluate with your Certified Financial Planner what your ideal retirement looks like and what your new needs and goals are - perhaps buying another income property was always your spouse’s dream and not yours and this will have ramifications for your regular day-to-day budget. Your budget will need to reflect your independent income, so there may be changes to the timing of your goals as a result.

There is nothing easy about divorce. But by keeping your financials in order and being prepared for the financial implications of the decision, you can minimize your stress and focus on your future.

If your separation is all settled, you know your new income and expenses, and now you need your financial plan re-considered to fit your new needs and goals, book a call.  Divorce does not have to mean the end of your dreams, it’s a new beginning!