How to Prepare for Divorce?

Updated on 06/15/2022 / Under

How to prepare for divorce? If you are asking yourself this question you may have already done some research about this topic. Let's face it, a divorce process is undoubtedly one of the most difficult situations a couple can witness, regardless of the reasons, since ending a relationship, a marriage is never easy.

Conducting a divorce is complex, regardless of whether the couple has children or not, so it is important to prepare in the right way so that carrying out the process does not end with the physical and emotional stability of those involved.

After all, just because a marriage doesn't work doesn't mean that one of the partners is a bad person. In some cases, two people simply should not be together because of the damage they do to each other or because they simply no longer feel the same way they did when they decided to get married.

This 2020 easy guide was made to help you understand the steps you need to take before even thinking about getting a divorce. We will also answer some of the most common questions people ask when going through the same experience.

When should I prepare for divorce?

When there's no option left - Before going through the divorce process, the couple should make sure that they have no other options, since once it is done, any regrets may not be very valid in addition to the emotional process involved.

It is very important to take some time to think about whether a divorce is the best decision, or if it is really the only decision left to make. It is advisable to think about it carefully and with a cool head, without the influence of any overwhelming situation or emotion, since it is a decision that cannot be made lightly.

You can even evaluate if the way out of the situation is couples therapy and if even then, once all options have been exhausted the only answer is still to separate through the process of divorce, then it will be necessary to carry it out.

When you've started to move on - Divorce is not something that should ever be taken lightly or carried out in a fit of rage. It is natural to experience a period of mourning and emotional distress after considering the possibility of divorce, and emotions can get in the way of sound judgment.

Moving on from the pain as much as possible before carrying out divorce can make all the decision-making for both much easier, so it's the best idea to prepare and plan for divorce once the dust has settled, in the cases where the grounds for divorce are not a situation threatening the integrity of either spouse, such as domestic abuse cases. Learn more about the common signs of divorce on Reader’s Digest.

What does the divorce process look like?

Illustration of a couple getting divorce

After hopefully giving it proper time and thought, this is roughly what lies ahead in your divorce process.


In the state of Illinois, it is necessary to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to start a divorce. You will obtain this form from your local Circuit Court. The form may vary from county to county. After filing this form, the remaining spoused will be served and have to file the form as well.

Related: How to file for divorce?

After that, the divorce process has formally begun. In Illinois, a divorce is usually broken down into three parts, or phases, as described below:

Temporary Phase

In this phase, whatever pressing issues that may destabilize the wellbeing of the parts are addressed. If something like issuing restraining orders towards those involved or to bank accounts and the property is needed, it will likely be done before proceeding further.

Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase, both spouses will declare their properties, assets, and debts. Also, the future of the children, such as physical custody and financial support, will be discussed. Some couples, when there are little possessions to contest or to avoid the lengthening of the process, will waive formal discovery.

Furthermore, if the two parties state the division of assets in a properly written Divorce Settlement Agreement, this phase can be practically bypassed. However, if one of the parties needs to ensure the certainty of what the other has declared, formal discovery will commence.

Resolution Phase

The resolution phase is where the case either reaches a settlement by both parties or goes to a formal trial to be sentenced by a judge. In the cases where the spouses come to an agreement via a settlement, they will attend a small hearing in which a judge will determine the fairness of said settlement; and will concede or reject it, although the latter is rare.

If the issues contested are large, a formal trial without a jury will take part, in which a judge will determine the outcome of the divorce. However, this last instance might make the divorce last several months, even years.

What do I need to do?

Get good assessment - Assessment from a divorce will involve three key aspects: legal, financial, and emotional. Since marriage is a legal contract, it is logical that the unbinding of such contract is a legal arrangement as well, so advice from a lawyer is a must. A lawyer who is specialized in divorce might help you go through the entire process smoothly and point out things you might have not considered.

Additionally, if accounting for all of your assets and debts is a complicated matter because of their nature or because you find it hard, help from an accountant is definitely a plus. A good financial advisor might also help you with your finances during and after the divorce, which can be tricky depending on the case.

Lastly, a therapist or a support group will help you overcome the negative emotions that might arise from the divorce process.

You may want to know - what are the fees involved in a divorce?

Get on friendly terms with your partner if possible

Remember that divorce can also be an act of love if you two agree that separation is the way to go. One of the best things you can do, if the factors surrounding your case allow it, is reaching a settlement with your spouse, in terms of assets and debts division, children custody and support if applicable. Divorces are much smoother than people would think when they are uncontested.

Consider it a business transaction

Divorces are legal arrangements with serious and permanent financial consequences. Therefore, one of the best approaches you can take for yourself and with your spouse is by seeing the divorce as the celebration of a business transaction. This can be a platform to discuss things calmly, regardless of the nature of the causes of the separation.

Accept there are bad days ahead

When you go through a separation process such as a divorce, undoubtedly the parties involved will go through a process of mourning, even though they have accepted that the decision is final and even accepted the emotions that such a process entails, the days when everything seems overwhelming and even sad will appear.

It is common that in the face of these emotions, people seek refuge in other types of activities such as parties, excess food, alcohol or in some cases, sex. However, the ideal in this type of situation is not to make decisions that can make a person's emotional situation worse.

This process can be accompanied by a therapist or the necessary support, either from friends or family, because the idea is to do something that helps to cope with it as exercise, some sport, meditation, or even a new hobby something that helps to release the negative emotions that come.

Have your files ready

cabinet with a personal data files

Should you ever consider a divorce without telling your spouse directly, it would be a good idea to set up a separate P.O. Box to receive any documents and correspondence you might request, such as advice from a lawyer, copies of the marriage certificate, and any pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements if applicable. In order to make everything go smoother try to keep all of your personal information organized such as:

  • get yourself a new email address
  • income reports and paystubs
  • expenses
  • tax returns
  • insurance
  • credit cards statements
  • assets under your name

Save your assets

Even though most people will take divorce in a mature way, it's hard to predict how some partners will take this process. As it can be lengthy in some cases, you wouldn't want your partner to squander your savings as revenge in the meantime, so it's advisable to set a savings account to ensure some financial stability in the meantime and shortly after the divorce is final.

Pick your arguments and conversations wisely

As stated before, support from family and friends can go a long way. However, you need to think carefully about what to disclose and when, since some people might take an active role in the divorce and influence in a negative way over the human side of the legal process. There's also the matter of explaining divorce to children since it can be a confusing and painful experience for them.

Addressing divorce with children should always be done with words they can understand and relate to, and it's key to convey that even though the parents need to separate, they will not stop loving their children.

Think about the big picture

Thinking that after divorce your life will return back to normal minus the person you've just separated from is natural. You need to consider the key aspects of your life after the divorce, such as where you'll live, how you'll manage work and finances, the time you'll dedicate to rearranging your emotions, etc.

This is the time to look beyond the pain in the present, over to the new life that will begin after the divorce.

Do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Is it required to get an attorney to file for a divorce? It is definitely not necessary. However, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce lawyer. Of course, we all hope that things will turn out for the best but more often than not we come to the realization that’s not always the case.

Get the peace of mind you need knowing that you have a professional handling the legal matters on your behalf. Take care of your kids, finances, and your mental health, and let us manage your separation.