Don’t live beyond your income. Reduce your monthly expenses—cancel perks like memberships, cancel vacations, and eat out less. Create a budget and live by it.
Consider whether you can afford to keep the family home. Many divorcing parties really want to hold on to the family home even when it doesn’t make financial sense. It can be extremely tough to pay the mortgage on a home that was original supported by two incomes.
Identify your priorities early on. Make a list of property items that you have to have (pets included). Also make a list of priorities for settlement purposes. Is immediate cash flow most important—or is long term financial health more important?
Don’t forget about retirement. The divorce process can induce myopia. Remember you are planning on retiring someday. When dividing up assets, give yourself a mix of liquid and retirement assets.
Reduce and don’t incur debt. Many divorcing parties lean on credit cards post-separation. This can hinder your post-separation financial health.
Get a copy of your credit report. Get a credit report to make sure you know what is out there—many times spouses are surprised what they find.
Get organized. Collect all your financial statements, make a list of assets, and compile your debts. Figure out when each item was acquired.
Expect to feel poor. In almost every case one household split into two is going to feel financial pressure. Even if you were financially comfortable during the marriage—expect to feel the sting.
Settle out of court if possible. The longer litigation drags out, the more expensive it is. There are alternative approaches, mediation among them that are cheaper.
Find a lawyer you trust and can afford. Finding a lawyer you trust is important, as you are going to rely on them in one transaction that spans all of your belongings and nearly all of your property rights.