When a couple decides to divorce, it is usually never a spontaneous decision but rather a long evolving process that has culminated to this point over a period of time. It is important that during this process, you are prepared should you and your spouse decide to file for divorce. There are many things you can do to prepare for divorce and in this article, we will provide you with some useful tips on what to consider ahead of a divorce:
- Thoughtfully Consider Whether Divorce Is Right For You: Before you jump into a decision to divorce, it is important that you thoughtfully consider whether divorce is the right option for you. Many couples for example, choose separation over divorce especially if there are health insurance or religious reasons to consider. Divorce is a life-changing decision and it should not be made spontaneously but considered over a period of time after you have had an opportunity to consider what divorce would mean for you and your children. During this time, you may want to speak to a therapist or even try couples counseling in an attempt to either solidify your decision to divorce or reconsider divorce.
- Have Thorough Discussions With Your Spouse (and Children) and Your Solicitor: Before you divorce, you may want to have a series of discussions with your spouse about whether divorce is the right decision for you as a couple and for the family. In your discussions, you may want to discuss whether divorce is the right option for you as a couple and if you do divorce, how would that look. For example, in your discussions with your spouse, you could talk about how you want to divide finances or how to split care and control of the children. Generally speaking, if you have mature and reasoned discussions with your spouse prior to the filing of a divorce Petition, there is more possibility that your divorce will not be litigious since you and your spouse have discussed the divorce beforehand. If you surprise your spouse with divorce papers, there may be shock and feelings of betrayal involved which may not bode well going forward in the divorce. Additionally, you may want to schedule an initial meeting with a solicitor to discuss divorce and what it would mean for you to file for divorce and discuss your legal rights and any concerns/questions you may have related to a divorce. The solicitor will be able to guide you as to the timing of your divorce petition and the things to consider when filing for your divorce petition. This initial information-gathering meeting is important so that you are prepared for what’s to come.
- Gather All Necessary Information/Documents For Your Divorce: If you have decided to divorce, you will want to start organizing your life. For example, this is now the time to gather all the necessary information/documentation related to your finances so that you are aware of your financial health. You will need to disclose this information to your solicitor who will then prepare all the necessary financial disclosure documents for the Court. If you do not have this information, it will be harder for your solicitor to prepare the financial disclosure documents that are necessary in your divorce. It is also not beneficial for you to be in the dark about your finances as you will need to prepare your life post-divorce and this includes being financially independent. In the event that you are filing a non-molestation order against your spouse, this is also the time to gather all the necessary documents and photos to support your allegations against your spouse. If you have children, it will be important to collect all the information/documentation related to their daily schedule and any other pertinent information you believe is necessary related to care and control.
- Consider Your Wishes For The Divorce Regarding Finances and Children: After you have spoken to your spouse and had the initial information-gathering meeting with your solicitor, this may now be the time for you to consider what you want from the divorce. How do you want to move forward with the divorce? Do you want to attempt mediation first? Do you and your spouse already have an agreement in place prior to a divorce? Have you reviewed your finances to consider how much maintenance (if you are entitled to it) you will need to pay for your day-to-day needs and the needs of the children? How much time do you want with the children and/or how much time will you agree to your spouse having with the children? These are a few of the important questions to ponder upon and discuss with your solicitor.
- Make Necessary Plans For Your Life Post-Divorce: Another aspect you should thoughtfully consider is how you want your life to look post-divorce. Do you plan to remain living in Hong Kong or do you want to relocate to another city/country? Will you propose to take the children with you? How much money will you need to sustain your lifestyle each month? Will you need to work or switch jobs? This is your time to brainstorm how you want to plan your life once you are divorced and to start making all the necessary plans to reach those goals. Your solicitor can assist you with this process and provide you with guidance on how you can reach your goals. You may also consider retaining a financial planner to help you with your finances and budget accordingly.
With all the tips above, the key component is open communication with both your spouse and solicitor and also knowing what you want both in a divorce and thereafter. Whilst it may be difficult, divorce should be viewed almost like a business transaction as you and your spouse are each now negotiating the best deal for oneself. It may be easy for emotions to get involved, but the less emotion involved, the easier the process will be. Speak to your solicitor who can help you through this challenging journey.