Couple and family therapist Emily V. Gordon had a nice post in the Huffington Post Divorce Brief that is worth re-reading if you are in the contemplation stages. Her material is usually thoughtful and useful. This post has a lot of good material to think about. Regardless of whether you are consulting with an attorney yet, these are things you will need to consider. Here is an excerpt:
First stage: Information Gathering
- Tell someone you trust about your plans. This is important both for safety concerns as well as emotional support.
- Are you planning on moving out, or asking your spouse to leave? If you plan on moving out, where will you go? A friend's house? How long would you be able to stay there? Will you find a Craigslist roommate? After you inform your spouse that you are leaving the relationship, you should stop living together as soon as possible. Staying in the same place creates a volatile situation, so have your plans ready before you have the conversation.
- What are your expectations for the separation? Do you see it as temporary, or the first step in the process of divorce? Will you still see each other at all?
- How are your finances set up? If they are all kept in one pot, you technically have the right to half of that pot. Do some serious thought about how you want to handle finances once you are no longer living in the same place, and please, don't let your emotions rule your spending. As any daytime judge show can tell you, spending someone's money or taking their stuff because they hurt your feelings is not justified.
- Start thinking about the items you and your spouse own. What items do you need, and what items would you be okay parting with? Make a list.
- Go through the services you use (Internet, phone plans) and find out what plans are linked, and what plans are not.
- Do you know where all your paperwork is -- marriage certificate, car deeds? Do you know how to access your financial information online?